Pirates quell player speculation

Sello Rabothata

Sello Rabothata

Orlando Pirates, who have been linked with a number of top players whose contracts are running out at the end of the season, yesterday moved to quell the speculation and put matters into perspective.

This after Sowetan learnt that the Mighty Buccaneers have acquired the services of two of the most talented attacking midfielders in the Premier Soccer League in Bloemfontein Celtic's Lebogang Mothibantwa and Santos' Thembile Kanono.

A reliable source said the two have signed pre-contracts with the Soweto giants as their contracts with their respective teams come to an end in June.

Pirates' Floyd Mbhele denied any knowledge of the duo being engaged by the team, saying it would only be at the end of the season after the coach's overall assessment of the club's situation that such decisions could be made.

Mbhele said: "It is usually the technical team's report that forms the basis of recommendations on which positions within the team can be filled or beefed-up.

"We have been said to have a very big squad. But that isn't true as we initially had a squad of about 30 players, then we promoted nine from our development structure and signed seven from other teams.

"That made the numbers look incredible, but we loaned out players because you can't just off load them when they are on contracts."

He said such aspects are never mentioned when stories are written about the numbers at the club. He believes the 37 players the club is presently using are just the right number, considering the number of games played in a season, injuries and suspensions that come with the territory.

Pirates have also been linked with relegation-threatened Black Leopards striker, Myron Shongwe who is the son of a former Bucs great, Ronnie "Ghandries" Shongwe. That has also been dismissed as hearsay by both teams.

Mbhele, however, when asked how the situation was at Pirates, added that players will always weigh their options at this time when their contracts are up, to look at greener pastures or to stay.

He would not comment on reports that Lebogang "Cheeseboy" Mokoena may be heading towards Chloorkop to join rivals Mamelodi Sundowns.