Pi­rates power

Af­ter the dis­ap­point­ment of last sea­son, Or­lando Pi­rates have made ma­jor moves in the trans­fer mar­ket in an at­tempt to re­main ti­tle con­tenders along­side big spen­ders Mamelodi Sun­downs, Bid­vest Wits and Su­per­Sport United. And cap­tain Oupa Many­isa says ther

Kick Off - - Contents - BY CHAD KLATE

Can this Bucs trio help bring back the glory days of the sleep­ing Soweto gi­ants?

The re­turn of Or­lando Pi­rates skip­per Oupa Many­isa from long-term in­jury al­most equates to a new sign­ing for the Bucs – such was he missed dur­ing his near year-long ab­sence from the side. Now fully re­cov­ered and wear­ing the cap­tain’s arm­band once more, the 28-year-old be­lieves he can guide the Soweto gi­ants to tro­phy suc­cess this year, es­pe­cially given the un­usu­ally force­ful foray into the trans­fer mar­ket made by club owner Irvin Khoza.

A new coach

in Muhsin Er­tu­gral and 17 new play­ers has seen a ma­jor over­haul of the Pi­rates squad, but cen­tral to any suc­cess they may have will be the in­dus­try and in­tel­li­gence of Many­isa. He has al­ready shown in the early stages of the sea­son that his abil­ity to pull the strings in mid­field and con­trol the tempo of games makes him cru­cial to the Pi­rates cause. And he is con­fi­dent that, un­like the last cam­paign, Pi­rates will be a force this sea­son. “I think we can chal­lenge ev­ery­one,” he tells KICK OFF. “It’s not only about try­ing to beat Sun­downs, but ev­ery team in the PSL. It’s im­por­tant that we re-es­tab­lish our­selves as ti­tle con­tenders, and the only way we can do that is by beat­ing ev­ery team. “It’s ob­vi­ously dis­ap­point­ing that we aren’t play­ing in Africa again, but it might also be a bless­ing be­cause we can fo­cus all our at­ten­tion on the PSL. In re­cent years we have had to split our fo­cus be­tween do­mes­tic and con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tions, so now is our chance to read­just our fo­cus on win­ning some­thing at home. “We need to be more to­gether this sea­son and re­ally fight for one an­other. Last sea­son was dif­fi­cult af­ter the dis­ap­point­ment in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup fi­nal, and we lacked that to­geth­er­ness af­ter­wards. “If we turn our at­ten­tion to team spirit and chem­istry, then ev­ery­thing will start com­ing right for us.”

But aside from

win­ning tro­phies, Many­isa also main­tains that the Bucs can en­ter­tain with their style of foot­ball, for which he cred­its Er­tu­gral. “He is very pas­sion­ate and has come in and en­cour­aged us to play

foot­ball,” Many­isa says. “This club’s cul­ture is about play­ing good foot­ball, so I think he fits in well with the club’s phi­los­o­phy, and with his ap­proach I’m sure we can do well.” Many­isa says he feels a re­spon­si­bil­ity as cap­tain to en­sure the new ar­rivals and Er­tu­gral have all the sup­port they need from the re­main­der of the group. “The key fo­cus is to en­sure the new coach and play­ers all feel wel­come at the club, and make sure they get sup­port so that the team can work to­wards one com­mon goal,” he says. “I think the new guys have ad­justed very well. Some of them have ob­vi­ously played against us be­fore so we know them and we are aware of their strengths and what they can bring to the team.” Many­isa says the pres­sure of play­ing for the Soweto gi­ants is al­ways there and per­haps more so for this cur­rent group, who are ex­pected to em­u­late the team that com­pleted the ‘Dou­ble Tre­ble’ be­tween 2010 and 2012. “We’ve had a few dif­fer­ent coaches through the years, but we can­not com­plain about that and we just have to soldier on,” he says. “But we can’t put un­nec­es­sary pres­sure on our­selves to try and em­u­late what a dif­fer­ent team, with a dif­fer­ent coach [Ruud Krol], achieved in the past. We have to fo­cus on the present and try to re­store the pride of the badge. “Or­lando Pi­rates is a big team and the main goals and tar­gets – to achieve and win tro­phies – never changes. The coach only comes in to drive the play­ers to­wards that, and so each and ev­ery player is ex­pected to con­trib­ute his best for the sake of achiev­ing and win­ning sil­ver­ware.” Pi­rates will cel­e­brate their 80th an­niver­sary next year, and Many­isa is de­ter­mined to cel­e­brate the club’s mile­stone in style. “We have to give more, but we can­not only think of it from the per­spec­tive of mak­ing his­tory. The club’s 80th birth­day is im­por­tant and I think we can cel­e­brate with at least two tro­phies.”

Af­ter such a

long time on the side­lines, it will have been pleas­ing for The Ghost to see how quickly Many­isa has re­turned to peak form. He ad­mits it has been chal­leng­ing, but that the hours of sweat on the train­ing pitch have been worth it. “I’m feel­ing re­ally, re­ally good be­cause I can feel that I’m get­ting back to tip-top shape again. It’s been a while so I have to start from scratch and just take it one game at a time, and try to im­prove,” he says. “My tar­get is to fight my way back up to the top of my game; it’s about im­prov­ing with ev­ery game and mak­ing sure I pull my weight. They say ‘if there’s no com­pe­ti­tion, then there’s no progress’, so I think the com­pe­ti­tion in the team is at a healthy level again and I’m ready to chal­lenge for my place.”

Many­isa’s pres­ence in mid­field has been missed by the Bucs

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