Meet All Orlando Pirates New Signings for 2021/2022 Season

One of the oldest clubs in the Premier Soccer League, Orlando Pirates, has boosted its team during the recently ended transfer window by signing new players. The club, founded in 1937, has been playing beautiful football over the years. Nevertheless, they have been struggling to clinch the PSL title since 2012. As a result, Orlando Pirates have strengthened the squad with new signings, hoping to challenge Mamelodi Sundowns for the Premier Soccer League title. Orlando Pirates ranks among the most successful franchises playing in the top-tier system of football in South Africa.

The club, which is based in the Houghton suburb of the city of Johannesburg, holds the record as the first club to win three major trophies (PSL title, MTN8, and Nedbank Cup) in a single season since Premier Soccer League was launched in 1996. Also, the Buccaneers have won the much-coveted CAF Champions League Cup that has been won by only two clubs in South Africa. No wonder Orlando Pirates head coach Josef Zinnbauer resigned during the offseason due to the pressure on him to bring many cup silverware to the club. His replacement, Mandla Ncikazi, welcomed the responsibility by making new signings, rebuilding the team in the process.

How Many Players Did Orlando Pirates Sign For The 2021/2022 Season

With Mandla Ncikazi appointed as the Pirates’ caretaker manager in the offseason, he has moved on to sign many players. So far, Orlando Pirates have strengthened its squad with seven new signings and are still being linked to several other players who are free agents. The team hopes to unseat Mamelodi Sundowns as the Premier Soccer League champion as Masandawana has dominated the league in many campaigns. Since 2013, they have only missed laying their hands on South Africa’s top football prize in 2015 and 2017.

Orlando Pirates won the MTN8 Cup in 2020 but missed out on the CAF Champions League qualification last season. In addition to having maddening profligacy in front of goal, the team also had defensive issues in the 2020/2021 season. Consequently, coach Zinnbauer lost his goodwill with supporters, which led to his resignation five days to the opening of the 2021/2022 season. His departure has thrown the hopes of Orlando Pirates starting the new season strong into disarray. However, the new signings are expected to revamp the team, getting it back to winning ways.

Meet Orlando Pirates’ Latest Signings

The Bucs signed seven players ahead of the 2021/2022 season, namely Kwanda Mngonyama, Bandile Shandu, Goodman Mosele, Ntsako Makhubela, Monnapule Saleng, Kwame Prepah, and Olisah Ndah. While many of the players have Premier Soccer League experience, a few others like Saleng, Ndah, and Prepah are making their maiden campaign in the league. The last two are foreign players who recently relocated to South Africa after sealing their transfer deals with Orlando Pirates.

1. Kwanda Mngonyama

  • Age: 28 Years
  • Former Club: Maritzburg United
  • Transfer Fee: Free Transfer
  • Contract Expiry Date: June 30th, 2023
  • Playing Position: Centre-Back

Kwanda Mngonyama was born in Durban, South Africa, on September 25th, 1993. The center-back joined Orlando Pirates as one of the new signings for the 2021/2022 season. He was signed on a free transfer, having been released by Maritzburg United. He has a market value of €325 thousand. Throughout his career, he has been playing in the Premier Soccer League. Kwanda began his senior career at Mamelodi Sundowns and was sent on a season-long loan to Bidvest Wits in the 2013/2014 season. There, he played 22 games, and the team finished as runner-up in the Nedbank Cup competition that season.

Later in 2014, Kwanda Mngonyama moved to Maritzburg United on loan. He spent three seasons at the club and made appearances in 110 games. He played for the club in 97 PSL games and scored six goals, providing one assist. The defender then joined Cape Town City FC on another loan move in 2018. He played 31 PSL matches and made appearances for the club in many domestic competitions, including Nedbank Cup, Telkom Knockout, and MTN8. He later returned to Maritzburg United in 2019. As a South Africa international, Mngonyama has played six games with the U23 national team and made five appearances with the Bafana Bafana team.

2. Bandile Shandu

  • Age: 26 Years
  • Former Club: Maritzburg United
  • Transfer Fee: Free Transfer
  • Contract Expiry Date: June 30th, 2024
  • Playing Position: Right-Midfielder

In July 2021, Orlando Pirates announced the signing of midfielder Bandile Shandu. He joined the club as a free agent and was associated with Maritzburg United before the expiration of his contract with the franchise. Shandu was offered a three-year contract by the Bucs and is currently worth €500 thousand in the transfer market. He spent more than eight seasons at Maritzburg, where he began his youth career. He was promoted to the senior team in 2013 and never left the club to play for any other team until his contract expired and was not extended by the club.

He had 162 game appearances for Maritzburg, scoring five goals and providing twelve assists. The midfielder scored four goals in 134 PSL games he played with the team. While there, he also played in the Premier Soccer League Promotion-Relegation Playoff and other competitions such as Telkom Knockout, MTN8, and Nedbank Cup. Bandile Shandu has further played for the South Africa U20 national team. He was born on January 19th, 1995, in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

3. Goodman Mosele

  • Age: 21 Years
  • Former Club: Baroka FC
  • Transfer Fee: Undisclosed
  • Contract Expiry Date: June 30th, 2025
  • Playing Position: Central Midfielder

Unlike any other new signings that arrived at Orlando Pirates for the new season, Goodman Mosele is the only player who was offered a four-year contract by the club. He was signed from Baroka FC on an undisclosed transfer fee. The midfielder was born in Khuma, South Africa, on November 18th, 1999. He had his secondary education at Vuyanimawethu Secondary School and Kopano High School. Upon his graduation in 2016, at age 16, he moved to Baroka FC. There, he continued with his youth career as he was previously associated with Stillfontein Real Hearts before joining Baroka.

From 2017 to 2021, Mosele stayed at the club; he played 92 games and scored one goal. He clinched the Premier Soccer League Player of the Year Award for the 2019/2020 season. More so, the player has participated in Orlando Pirates PSL games at the start of the 2021/2022 season and has found the back of the net once. Besides playing as a central midfielder, Goodman Mosele can also play in the defensive midfield position. He was part of the South Africa national team that played at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

4. Monnapule Saleng

  • Age: 23 Years
  • Former Club: Free State Stars
  • Transfer Fee: Undisclosed
  • Contract Expiry Date: June 30th, 2024
  • Playing Position: Left-Winger

Orlando Pirates signing
(Image Source)

One of Orlando Pirates’ new signings, Monnapule Saleng, joined the club from the National First Division side, Free State Stars, on a three-year deal. He ended the 2020/2021 season as the top goalscorer in the GladAfrica Championship. Starting his maiden campaign at Premier Soccer League, the young talent will be spending the new season at Moroka Swallows, where he is being sent on a season-long loan by the Pirates. Over the years, the left-winger has played for the national team and was part of the Bafana Bafana team that won the 2021 COSAFA tournament. Saleng was born in South Africa on March 13th, 1998.

5. Ntsako Makhubela

  • Age: 27 Years
  • Former Club: Golden Arrows
  • Transfer Fee: Undisclosed
  • Contract Expiry Date: June 30th, 2024
  • Playing Position: Right-Winger

Ntsako Makhubela arrived at Orlando Pirates in August 2021 after signing a contract with the club. His signing was orchestrated by his former coach at Golden Arrows, Mandla Ncikazi, who also left the franchise at the end of last season to join the technical team of Orlando Pirates. Makhubela’s transfer fee is yet to be disclosed. The youngster, who was born in Carletonville, Johannesburg, on March 14th, 1994, started his career at Orlando Pirates Youth Development Academy. He joined the Reserve team in the 2016/2017 season and made two game appearances for the club. He later moved to Real Kings in the South African second-tier competition during the 2017/2018 season.

In August 2019, the right-winger joined Lamontville Golden Arrows. He played 53 Premier Soccer League games with the team and scored four goals. He equally provided three assists. Also, he participated in the Nedbank Cup competition and Telkom Knockout while playing for the franchise. Ntsako Makhubela has a market value of €300 thousand.

6. Olisah Ndah

  • Age: 23 Years
  • Former Club: Akwa United
  • Transfer Fee: Undisclosed
  • Contract Expiry Date: June 30th, 2024
  • Playing Position: Centre-Back

In August 2021, Orlando Pirates secured the signature of a foreign player, a Nigeria international Olisah Ndah. The towering defender joined the Buccaneers from Akwa United on a three-year deal, and his transfer fee is yet to be revealed. He lifted the Nigerian Premier League title last season with Akwa United before departing to join the Bucs. In 2014, Olisah Ndah was signed by Delta Stars, and the following year, he moved to Sharks United. Later in the 2015/2016 season, he joined Sliema Wanderers and subsequently was associated with Hamrun Spartans, Sirens, and Remo Stars.

He moved to Akwa United in the 2019/2020 season on a free transfer and played 33 games for the club in the Nigeria Professional Football League. Furthermore, the center-back made his debut for the Nigeria U23 national team in November 2019. He was featured in the friendly match between Mexico and Nigeria, in which Mexico won 4-0. Olisah Ndah was born on January 21st, 1998.

7. Kwame Peprah

  • Age: 20 Years
  • Former Club: King Faisal
  • Transfer Fee: $150,000 (R2.3 million)
  • Contract Expiry Date: June 30th, 2024
  • Playing Position: Centre-Forward

Before the end of the transfer window on August 30th, 2021, Orlando Pirates announced the arrival of another new signing in the person of Kwame Prepah. The international forward was acquired from a Ghana Premier League club, King Faisal FC, on a three-year deal valued at $150,000 (R2.3 million). In the 29 league game appearances he made for the franchise last season, the prolific striker scored 12 goals and provided ten assists. While there, he won the Man of the Match Award on multiple occasions, having scored 14 goals in the 45 total matches he played with the team.

He has also made one outing with Ghana U23 national team. The striker is currently worth €125 thousand in the transfer market. In addition to playing as a center-forward, he can also play in the position of a left-winger. Prepah was born on December 16th, 2000, in Ghana.

Is Orlando Pirates Building a New Team?

After signing seven players, many wonder if Orlando Pirates will kick off the 2021/2022 season with the new players making up the starting XI. With many experienced players still in the squad, the new signings would have to prove themselves by making a positive impact in the team to establish themselves as a constant pick in the starting lineups. Kwanda Mngonyama, who is an experienced defender playing in the PSL for several years, is expected to settle quickly and make an immediate impact in the team, unlike Thulani Hlatshawayo, who is yet to live up to expectations after arriving at the club at the start of the 2020/2021 season.

With an alluring profile as the Bafana Bafana captain and Bidvest Wits captain, there were so many expectations about the defender. However, Hlatshwayo’s debut season with the Bucs wasn’t all that satisfactory. This time around, the supporters hope that Orlando Pirates made the right call by beefing up the team with players who will make an immediate impact. Playing as a center-back, Mngonyama would battle for a selection spot with well-known central defenders in the club, including captain Happy Jele, Thulani Hlatshwayo, and Ntsikelelo Nyauza.

Still trying to reinforce the team’s shaky defense, especially at center-back, Orlando Pirates secured the signature of another central defender, Nigeria international Olisah Ndah, despite signing Kwanda Mngonyama. The coach will now decide whether to play with the new signings or pair them with old players. Thus far in the 2021/2022 season, the already established central defenders like Hlatshwayo, Jele, and Nyauza have been making Orlando Pirates starting lineup while the new signings sometimes make the substitute list. This hints that the interim coach, Ncikazi, is gradually building a new team by pairing the old players with the latest arrivals.

While focusing on strengthening the squad depth, Orlando Pirates’ first striker signing of the season, Kwame Prepah, might be deployed upfront by the coach to form a biting partnership with strikers already at Pirates, which includes Tshegofatso Mabasa, Frank Mhango, and Zakhele Lepasa. With left-winger Monnapule Saleng joining Moroka Swallows FC on a season-long loan, he would not be part of the new team being created by Mandla Ncikazi for the 2021/2022 season.

The Bucs Bolstered Its Squad By Recalling Some of Its Players on Loan

In addition to the seven new players signed to the squad (though one has been sent on a loan), Orlando Pirates aims to build a formidable team by recalling some of their players on loan, adding them to the squad for the 2021/2022 season. With the recruits, the club hopes to successfully challenge for the Premier Soccer League title and the Caf Confederation Cup in the new season. Among the players back from loan at Orlando Pirates are Tebogo Tlolane, Gladwin Shitolo, Justice Chabalala, Mthokozisi Dube, and Sandile Mthethwa. However, Orlando Pirates moved on to create space for the new signings by offloading some players.

Defender Justice Chabalala was sold to Sekhukhume FC, whereas right-back Mthokozisi Dube moved to Golden Arrows. Also, center-back Sandile Mthethwa joined Chippa United, and center-forward Jean-Marc Makusu moved to the Congolese side, AS Vita Club. Besides Monnapule Saleng, who was sent on loan to Swallows, the club also sent several players on loan. Right-winger Austin Muwowo joined Moroka Swallows FC on a loan while attacking midfielder Azola Tshobeni moved to JDR Stars FC. The Pirates further bolstered the squad by promoting Katlego Cwinyane from the reserve team to the first team in August 2021. Here are more details about the players.

1. Tebogo Tlolane

  • Age: 26 Years
  • Playing Position: Left-Winger
  • Market Value: €350,000

Left-back Tebogo Tlolane kickstarted his senior career at Jomo Cosmos in 2016. He made 36 game appearances with the team before he was released by the franchise in 2018. During his stint at Jomo Cosmos, Tebogo found the back of the net six times. In the 2018/2019 season, he moved to Chippa United and scored three goals in the 29 matches he played for the club. He was then signed by Orlando Pirates in 2019 and was subsequently sent on a season-long loan to Maritzburg United in January 2020. The loan deal was further extended for another season.

At the end of the 2020/2021 season, the player returned to Orlando Pirates and was included in the squad for the 2021/2022 season. He has featured in some of the team’s matches at the start of the season, including the MTN8 quarter-finals game, where Orlando Pirates were defeated 2-1 by Swallows FC, and the DStv Premiership match between the Pirates and Stellenbosch FC that ended in a 2-2 draw. Tlolane’s birth date is December 21st, 1994, and his place of birth is Johannesburg, South Africa. He has a market value of €350,000.

2. Gladwin Shitolo

  • Age: 32 Years
  • Playing Position: Defensive Midfielder
  • Market Value: €425,000

Valued at €425,000 in the transfer market, Gladwin Shitolo returned to Orlando Pirates from a season-long loan at Lamontville Golden Arrows in July 2021. The midfielder also plays in the position of a right-back, left-back, and center-back. He was born in Giyani, South Africa, on August 10th, 1989. He had his youth career at Jomo Cosmos from 2006 to 2009. Then in the 2009/2010 season, he was promoted to the club’s senior team. There, he played 71 games before signing for the Buccaneers in 2014. After participating in 27 games with the team, Shitolo had a brief loan spell at Platinum Stars in 2015.

He later moved to Lamontville Golden Arrows on a season-long loan in the 2015/2016 season. He played 28 games for the franchise and scored four goals before joining Chippa United on loan in 2019. Shitolo subsequently returned to Golden Arrows during the 2019/2020 season. At the end of last season, the defensive midfielder returned to the Pirates and is part of the squad for the 2021/2022 season. Throughout his career, he has participated in the MTN8, Telkom Knockout, and Nedbank Cup competitions.

3. Katlego Cwinyane

  • Age: 22 Years
  • Playing Position: Centre-Forward
  • Market Value: N/A

Orlando Pirates signing
(Image Source)

To kick off his dream of playing professional football, Katlego Cwinyane relocated to Johannesburg and joined Orlando Pirates Youth Development Academy at a very young age. He was sent on a brief loan at Sekhukhune FC in November 2020. He then returned to the Pirates reserve team in July 2021. Following his stellar performances in the reserve team, including scoring two quick goals in two minutes in a match against Polokwane City Rovers, Cwinyane was promoted to Orlando Pirates’ first team on August 24th, 2021. However, he is yet to feature for the club in the new season. The center-forward’s birth date is April 7th, 1999.

The Buccaneer’s Performance Last Season Cost Coach Zinnbauer His Job

Orlando Pirates’ former coach, Josef Zinnbauer, was appointed as the head coach in December 2019. His arrival brought positive changes to the team. Under his management in the 2019/2020 season, Pirates started performing well and ended up in third place in the Premier Soccer League, with Mamelodi Sundowns claiming the top spot. For finishing third place, the team qualified for the Caf Confederation Cup competition. Later in the 2020/2021 season, there were expectations for the team to challenge Sundowns for the League title as Mamelodi Sundowns’ coach, Pitso Mosimane, left the club for Al Ahly in mid-2020.

With Masandawana installing an unorthodox coaching trio of Manqoba Mngqiti, Steve Komphela, and Rhulani Mokwena, there were concerns that the club wouldn’t continue with its dominance in the league. Amazingly, Mamelodi Sundowns ended the 2020/2021 season with 67 points, losing only one match. The club lifted the PSL title once again despite changes to its coaching staff. Orlando Pirates were 17 points behind the champions as the Soweto giants had another third-place finish in the PSL. The season, however, didn’t end on a good note for the Pirates as they lost out on lifting the Caf Confederation Cup.

The team was defeated 4-0 by eventual champions of the competition, Raja Casablanca, in the quarter-finals of the Caf Confederation Cup. As if that wasn’t enough, Orlando Pirates also lost out on lifting the Carling Black Label Cup last season, as the team was defeated by Kaizer Chief via penalty shootout in the Cup final held on August 1st, 2021. The Bucs were also eliminated from the MTN8 tournament, having suffered a 2-1 loss to Moroka Swallows in the quarter-finals of the tournament on August 14th, 2021. Also, in the Nedbank Cup competition last season, the team was knocked out by Mamelodi Sundowns in the quarter-finals.

Consequently, Zinnbauer resigned as Orlando Pirates’ head coach on August 16th, 2021, having been under pressure to step down from his role at the club. Under the management of the German manager, Orlando Pirates won 35 games, lost 13, and drew 20. Furthermore, Josef Zinnbauer ended the Bucs’ six-years trophy drought when he led the team to the MTN8 Cup victory in December 2020. He was axed due to his adoption of an inflexible tactical approach that failed to stem the Pirates’ habit of scoring cheap goals.

On the other hand, The coach has hit out at the players by stating that some of the players at Orlando Pirates lack basic development skills. As a result, he could not change the situation within the squad. The Soweto giant played 30 PSL games in the 2020/2021 season and won 13 matches, drew 11, and lost 6. They ended the season with 50 points and a goal difference of +11.

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