Bucs win race

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Orlando Pirates have made their intentions clear of challenging for honours next season by acquiring the services of Thulasizwe Mbuyane from Free State Stars.

The much-sought-after, quicksilver striker officially became a Buccaneer yesterday after signing on the dotted line for three seasons.

Sowetan has learnt that Mamelodi Sundowns had also put in a R2 million offer to Stars chairman Mike Mokoena for Mbuyane.

The Mamelodi-born Mbuyane, who joined Ea Lla Koto at the beginning of last season from GaRankuwa United, was also high on the wanted list of Kaizer Chiefs.

He scored six goals in the past season.

Irvin Khoza, Pirates' chairman, breathed a sigh on relief after being presented with Mbuyane's clearance by Mokoena.

As part of the Mbuyane deal, Khoza reciprocated by allowing Stars to sign Paulos Masehe, one of the 14 players offloaded by Bucs at the weekend.

Stars have been chasing the signature of Masehe, who was born and bred in Phuthaditjhaba, for some time now.

"We also paid some money on top. We've just cleaned up the team and are busy in search of a few more quality players for next season," said Khoza.

"There will be be a few more other players we will be unveiling in the next few weeks. The aim is to assemble a well-oiled team to make our supporters happy."

Khoza was full of praise of the Ea Lla Koto chairman for allowing Mbuyane to join Pirates, but it wasn't all smooth sailing.

"It was one of the most difficult negotiations I have even been involved in in my life. Mike is a very tough negotiator, but I respect him as a businessman," Khoza said.

"We want to thank him for the opportunity."

Mokoena said: "We thank Dr Khoza for the superb manner in which Pirates handled the negotiations for the sale of Mbuyane."

Mbuyane, who turns 25 in August, could not be reached for comment. He won the March Premiership player of the month award.

The player's business manager, Mike Makaab, said they were happy that Pirates and Stars have reached an agreement.

The players released by Pirates are: Manuel Bucuane, Bongani Cashibe, Tonic Chabalala, Francis Chansa, Thulasizwe Khuzwayo, Dira Laka, Isaac Leshabane, Paulus Masehe, Tebogo Mashaba, Luntu Mazana, Gary McNab, Jorry Merahe, Gerald Modabi, Mpho Rashete and Cavann Sibeko.

At the same time, Stars have offloaded Thabo Mashego and Shaun Olivier.