It has been over a year since Nhanhla Brilliant Khuzwayo joined Orlando Pirates from rivals Kaizer Chiefs but the goalkeeper is yet to kick a ball in anger.
Khuzwayo has been sidelined by a serious ankle injury that has prevented him from making his Pirates debut but fans remain eager to see the stopper between the sticks.
Orlando Pirates have listed four potential keepers for the Carling Black Label Cup. Despite Wayne Sandilands ending last season as the Buccaneers number one keeper, it is Khuzwayo who leads the voting by some distance.
Also involved in that race are veteran stopper Siyabonga Mpontshane who has been on Pirates’ books since 2015. Mpontshane played 15 PSL matches last season but had the unfortunate distinction of being in goal for two cup defeats on penalties.
Pirates have signed another keeper in the current transfer window, snapping up French goalie Joris Delle on a free transfer back in June.
Orlando Pirates allow Khuzwayo to emerge from Khune’s shadow
The move to Orlando Pirates was intended to allow the undeniably talented Khuzwayo to move out of Itumeleng Khune’s shadow.
Khuzwayo made just 25 league appearances for Amakhosi in the six seasons he spent at Naturena. He was part of Bafana Bafana’s 2015 Afcon squad, playing only the 2-1 defeat to Ghana. His other international caps have all come in friendly matches.
Pirates technical team have taken a very cautious stance on Khuzwayo, feeling that rushing him back into action could threaten the longevity of the keeper’s career.
Fans on one side of the Soweto divide learned that their inspirational keeper would not take to the field for the CBL cup when Chiefs announced Khune was not ready to return to action in the curtain-raiser.
Pirates kept Khuzwayo’s condition as a closely guarded secret last season, giving little away leaving fans frustrated as they waited for a first look at the keeper in a Sea Robbers shirt. His only action all of last season was a single Multichoice Diski appearance.
As things stand if Khuzwayo is not fit, Mpontshane will take the gloves as he currently has the second-highest number of votes, however, when a player is withdrawn fans are allowed to recast any votes cast for that player.
The Carling Black Label Cup will take place on 27 July at a sold-out FNB Stadium.