'Thabo Qalinge's move to Pirates was a bad one'

SuperSport United midfielder Thabo Qalinge has struggled for game time since he joined the club at the beginning of the season from Orlando Pirates. / Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
SuperSport United midfielder Thabo Qalinge has struggled for game time since he joined the club at the beginning of the season from Orlando Pirates. / Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

SuperSport United's decision to let go of Thabo Qalinge did not surprise veteran coach Clive Barker.

Barker says Qalinge's move to Orlando Pirates was the worst choice he did for his career, hence he didn't command a regular place at the Soweto giants.

The 28-year-old attacking midfielder enjoyed his best football at Mpumalanga Black Aces between 2012 and 2014 under Barker before moving to the Buccaneers. But he failed to replicate the same performance at Pirates and spent most of the time on the sidelines in his five-year stay.

He joined SuperSport at the beginning of the season on a free transfer for one year with the hope of reviving his career, but things didn't go as planned.

He only made five appearances for Matsatsantsa a Pitori in all competitions and the club has since confirmed that they won't be renewing his contract when it expires in June.

"I just think he got it all wrong, maybe going to a big club like Orlando Pirates wasn't the best move," Barker told Sowetan.

"When I had him he was very talented. He was very good in one-on-one situations. He could go past people. You've watched him regularly, he was a top-class player together with Themba Zwane [now at Mamelodi Sundowns] at that time. Zwane went forward and he went backwards."

Barker, however, remains optimistic that Qalinge can still get his career back on track should he find a team with lesser pressure.

"He is very young enough to turn it around, he is good enough to do so," Barker added.

"I think it is more of a mental problem that he is going through now. But he's got the ability to come back. He is a young man. I would not worry too much about his form at the moment, I know he will get his game right."

Qalinge's manager Stanton Fredericks said: "Until we find another club, we don't want to comment on anything. The relationship is perfect [with SuperSport], so we don't want to make any comment right now. You can call me after lockdown when football resumes."

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