Justice Chabalala ready to prove his worth against Amakhosi

Orlando Pirates defender Justice Chabalala focused on breaking into Bucs' first eleven next season. / Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images
Orlando Pirates defender Justice Chabalala focused on breaking into Bucs' first eleven next season. / Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Fringe Orlando Pirates defender Justice Chabalala aims to use tomorrow's Carling Black Label Cup showdown against traditional foes Kaizer Chiefs to prove his worth to the Buccaneers technical team.

Having arrived at Pirates as a highly-regarded centre-back from Free State Stars in 2016, Chabalala has only made 22 appearances across all tournaments.

Amid struggling to command a regular berth in the first eleven, the lad from Giyani, Limpopo, was loaned out to Chippa United in the 2016/17 term.

Chabalala may not be the club's technical team favourite, but the Bucs faithful have other ideas about the 27-year-old defender.

He accumulated over 11,000 votes to start alongside Happy Jele in the heart of Pirates' defence at FNB Stadium tomorrow (3pm).

"It's a blessing that the fans voted for me. I have been sitting without playing for too long. I believe that I can give my best shot," said Chabalala, who couldn't even manage a single minute in an official match last season.

"I trust myself. When you are not playing, you cannot sit down and relax. I have been working very hard."

Pirates are believed to be closing in on Bafana Bafana and Bidvest Wits skipper Thulani "Tyson" Hlatshwayo and that could deteriorate Chabalala's situation.

Nevertheless, the former Ea Lla Koto man sounded unshaken about the possibility of Hlatshwayo's arrival at the Soweto heavyweights.

"When God gives you a gift or talent, it's yours nobody can take it away from you, even if you are playing or not playing," Chabalala asserted.

"First of all, I don't know if the team really wants him [Hlatshwayo], and I don't want to involve myself in that. I just want to play football."

Insisting he's focused on the job at hand, to break into the XI at Bucs, Chabalala tries by all means to ignore rumours linking him with other clubs, with Cape Town City said to be one of the teams eyeing him.

"I am an Orlando Pirates player; I will be here as long as the team wants me. I won't say much about speculations, because I don't follow the media, I don't check newspapers... I keep my eyes on football."

Chabalala also explained how the Bucs technical team made him understand being in a situation of not playing.

"We have good coaches... They said don't worry, you'll play, one day is going to be one day," said the ex-Chippa centre-back.

"The team was doing well, finishing as runners-up twice. My brothers Jele, [Ntsikelelo] Nyauza, [Alfred] Ndengane and [Nyasha] Munetsi [who has since been sold to French side Reims] have been doing very well. So I was waiting for my chance to come and Saturday [tomorrow] I believe it's my chance."

Pirates XI: Sandilands, Dube, Maela, Jele, Chabalala, Motshwari, Lorch, Memela, Pule, Mulenga, Shonga.

Chiefs XI: Bvuma, Mphahlele, Gordinho, Mathoho, Cardoso, Ntshangase, Zuma, Maluleka, Kambole, Billiat, Parker.

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