Ben Motshwari casts his eye over Orlando Pirates ahead of the new season
Ben Motshwari believes the depth added by Orlando Pirates’ new signings‚ but the club also resisting going into the transfer market wholesale‚ will ensure continuity and see Bucs a more balanced‚ consistent combination in 2021-22.
Bafana Bafana midfielder Motshwari can be a rare model of consistency for a Pirates who under Josef Zinnbauer seem to either go on unstoppable hot streaks‚ or when they go cold can barely win a game.
The ex-Bidvest Wits player believes Zinnbauer’s first real pre-season – of five weeks – has allowed the coach to integrate signings and continue rehabilitating some of Bucs’ remaining walking wounded‚ and can be crucial to a more stable Pirates.
Motshwari said last campaign’s many injuries as matches came thick and fast in a compressed season affected by 2019-20 running to September due to Covid-19‚ and where Pirates also played continental football‚ were disruptive‚ along with fatigue.
“We started last season well‚ nabbing a trophy [the MTN8] after so long‚” Motshwari said as Bucs’ intense pre-season camp at Royal Marang Hotel in Rustenburg wound down this week.
“Then in the league we had some bumpy patches‚ and that’s how we carried ourselves towards the end of the season.
“We played a lot of games last season in terms of Caf‚ and travelling. I think there was a bit of fatigue as well‚ although I’m not trying to make it an excuse.
“Most of the guys have been retained from last season‚ and there’s so much experience there. And going forward we have to push ourselves and carry ourselves like professionals.”
Pirates’ ended 2020-21 playing a particularly high ratio of games as their Caf Confederation Cup campaign concluded in the quarterfinals.
They played 21 league and cup matches from March until ending third in the DStv Premiership by the league and season’s June 6 conclusion. Bucs won eight of those‚ drew seven and lost six.
Motshwari feels Pirates’ four signings – Goodman Mosele‚ Monnapule Saleng‚ Bandile Shandu and Kwanda Mngonyama – will add necessary depth‚ but not disrupt the continuity of the core of a squad that has been kept intact so far.
“I think that’s a key point. Most of the guys have been retained. We still have our balanced squad from last season‚” he said.
“The new guys coming in have adjusted well‚ especially in terms of Kwanda – we didn’t have centre-backs last season because of injuries from playing games every day.
“I think these signings were the ones we needed to give a bit of depth. Sundowns have a huge squad and compete very well – locally and in Africa. I think it’s going to be a good season for us.”
Pirates meet Kaizer Chiefs in the pre-season Black Label Cup at Orlando Stadium on Sunday.