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Opinion: Why Mabasa could be out of favour at Pirates

Orlando Pirates co-coaches Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids could soon have a selection headache after it emerged that one of their rising stars could be back with the first team as early as next month.

Pirates had a striker crisis last season, with the likes of Tshegofatso Mabasa, Zakhele Lepasa, Terrence Dzvukamanja and Gabadinho Mhango all getting injured and at some point all not available for selection under former coach Josef Zinnbauer.

Before they got injured, the Buccaneers were flying high, especially after winning the MTN8 and one of the main reasons they failed to challenge Mamelodi Sundowns for the league title was exactly that crisis, midway through the campaign.

All of the above strikers eventually recovered from their injuries, apart from Lepasa, who had a more serious injury, a fractured ankle, but the 24-year old could be back as early as November.

"I’m in the final phase of my rehab and I’m able to run now," he said, as quoted by SowetanLive.

"Hopefully I will be able to start training with the team soon, perhaps in November or December.

"I was that my second surgery would have me out for six months and the six-month period ended a week ago."

That's a huge boost for Pirates, who have struggled to hit top form, as a new coaching setup, headed by Ncikazi and Davids is yet to find the winning formula.

Mabasa has been getting the important goals for the Buccaneers, earning a call-up to the national team and although Ncikazi and Davids won't want to rush Lepasa into the thick of things, they will now have selection headaches in the striking department, with all the forwards soon to be all available.

So far, it seems the co-coaches prefer strikers that are mobile, given that Mabasa has often being played off the bench, with mobile forwards like Kabelo Dlamini and Dzvukamanja getting the nod ahead of the former or a flexible forward-line preferred, with the likes of Vincent Pule and Deon Hotto given the license to enter the striking positions.

Mabasa does not seem to be doing well when he starts games, as even at Bafana, after getting a rare start against Ethiopia, he was substituted before half-time, with coach Hugo Broos not impressed by his showing.

"Yes, and I know it’s a little bit disappointing for Tshegofatso Mabasa, but he had difficulties and and it was for us better that we change that,” Hugo Broos told Bafana Bafana’s media department, as per TheSouthAfrican.

“And I explained him for what, so we trained on it this week, but I don’t think that he really understood what we asked from him, and therefore we have to change him after half an hour.”

Once Lepasa gets his match fitness right, he could become the first choice striker, with Mabasa having to settle for a place on the bench.

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Mandla Ncikazi Orlando Pirates Terrence Dzvukamanja Tshegofatso Mabasa Zakhele Lepasa


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