Thami Sang­weni

Can he fill the shoes left empty at Or­lando Pirates by Oupa Many­isa?

Kick Off - - INSIDE - BY LOVE­MORE MOYO | Twit­ter: @kick­offff­magazine

Tham­sanqa Sang­weni is a man whose move me­an­dered through a stream of un­cer­tain­ties, flow­ing at tor­toise pace, so much so that it needed Chilli Boys boss Siviwe Mpen­gesi to ac­tu­ally fly down to Sang­weni’s home in KwaZu­luNatal to con­vince him to make the right de­ci­sion. It had be­come an open se­cret, ru­mours swirling as far back as the end of last sea­son, that the 28-year-old would move but the des­ti­na­tion was en­crypted. When he started train­ing with Bid­vest Wits at the end of June, it led to sug­ges­tions that he had cho­sen to take the “clever” route of join­ing the league cham­pi­ons. And af­ter train­ing at Braam­fontein for a week, he was an­nounced as a Buc­ca­neer. “It took time and I can’t lie about this fact,” Sang­weni says of the pe­riod pre­ced­ing this pe­cu­liar move. “It even took so much time that the chair­man of Chippa had to come [to my] home. He came to talk to me be­cause it was off-sea­son and he stays in Cape Town, while I was back home. So when he came all the way home to Richards Bay, we spoke about ev­ery­thing. We spoke about the de­ci­sion that I had to take re­gard­ing me com­ing here [to Pirates]. I don’t re­ally want to be re­veal­ing the finer de­tails of all that we spoke about dur­ing that meet­ing but we spoke about a lot of things and at the end of the day I am here at Pirates now. “With him (Mpen­gesi) it had been some time that he had been talk­ing about the prospect of this move but I had not made a def­i­nite de­ci­sion as yet on whether to come here or not. So af­ter we sat down, spoke at length, all be­came sorted in the end.”

Wits was one of the op­tions

Sang­weni had on the ta­ble. Kaizer Chiefs was men­tioned as the other, while there was al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity of an over­seas move en­gi­neered by his for­mer coach Roger Palm­gren also in the off­ing. For all the con­cerns that come with join­ing Pirates – es­pe­cially at this stage with the Buc­ca­neers un­char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally crum­bling

– he be­lieves he has all the rea­sons in the world to smile about his choice of club. Sang­weni says: “I am happy with the choice I made. I am gen­uinely happy to be here at Pirates in all ways pos­si­ble be­cause even from the first day that I got here I was wel­comed with open arms. I can­not be speak­ing about a lot of other things be­cause what mat­ters is that I am happy here.” As ex­pected his older brother Siyabonga also had a role to play in not only ad­vis­ing his younger sib­ling but also hold­ing his hand ahead of such a huge move. The older Sang­weni is known for his wisdom and be­ing firm – traits that the younger Sang­weni will be ex­pected to em­u­late de­spite plead­ing that there be no com­par­isons. “We speak a lot with bhut’ Siya and even the time when I came to sign, he is the per­son that ac­com­pa­nied me and was the one per­son that I was al­ways talk­ing to. He tells me about the things that hap­pen in­ter­nally at Pirates and all else that I need to do. My brother was here and he played well, so for me now that I am also now here, I need to open my own chap­ter. I am Thami Sang­weni and not Siya Sang­weni,” says Tham­sanqa. With Many­isa now gone, Sang­weni will im­me­di­ately be looked upon to pro­vide the brains in cen­tral mid­field. Sang­weni also ad­mits that this move has ca­reer growth writ­ten all over it.

His case is bol­stered by the fact

that he still needs to prove him­self at a top club af­ter a dif­fi­cult spell with Mamelodi Sundowns, when he first made the big move to Gaut­eng from AmaZulu five years ago. The lack of game time at Sundowns forced him out to Ajax Cape Town and then Chippa. “Ev­ery­one wants to see ca­reer growth, so I be­lieve this de­ci­sion that I took of join­ing Pirates is slant­ing to­wards that di­rec­tion of ca­reer growth. I am ready for the chal­lenge and I re­ally don’t want to be talk­ing about Sundowns be­cause I want my fo­cus to be here at Pirates,” Sang­weni de­clares.

Eight years into his pro­fes­sional

ca­reer, Sang­weni nei­ther has the tro­phies to show nor a pile of Bafana Bafana caps to his name. He is, how­ever, keen to earn both tro­phies and na­tional team hon­ours in abun­dance dur­ing his time with Pirates, who them­selves have been on a tro­phy drought. “Tro­phies? I al­ways come sec­ond best,” he gig­gles. “But I hope that this time I will win some­thing with my new club. What mat­ters most is that the team wins matches and we get tro­phies to­gether as a team. It is im­por­tant that we be­come united. I hon­estly feel if we are work­ing hard then we can achieve all our goals. As a player, I also want to win tro­phies with the clubs that I play for. All that I be­lieve in right now is that this is the per­fect time for me to win tro­phies, now that I am here at Pirates. “Be­ing in the na­tional team will be a bonus. My pri­or­ity is get­ting to play here at Pirates, help the team to suc­ceed and if I get the chance to play in the na­tional team then so be it,” he says.

(Main) Tham­sanqa Sang­weni turn­ing out for Pirates against Kaizer Chiefs in the Car­ling Black La­bel Cup.

(Be­low) Sang­weni cap­tain­ing Bafana against the Ivory Coast in Mbombela.

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