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Orlando Pirates: What lies ahead for Sandile Mthethwa

Two years ago Sandile Mthethwa had the opportunity to move to Europe with Portuguese club CS Maritimo but turned them down to join Orlando Pirates.

Mthethwa has spent the last two seasons farmed out on loan to his hometown club Richards Bay FC in the National First Division with his parent club spoiled for choice defensively.

Pirates are believed to be keen on sending the 22-year-old junior international back out on loan but there will be plenty who will question the value of another season in South Africa’s second tier.

Coach Micho Sredojevic doesn’t appear to believe the centre back can shift the current defensive core or add value to Orlando Pirates PSL squad. While there have been some defensive departures but the Buccaneers can still call on the services of skipper Happy Jele as well as Alfred Ndengane, Ntsikelelo Nyauza.

Like Mthethwa, Tercious Malepe spent last season out on loan. He did so at Chippa United and proved both his value and versatility at the Port Elizabeth club, who spent much of the season fighting an intense relegation battle. Malepe looks to be the player more likely to be retained, given that he can play as a defensive midfielder as well the centre of defensive and down the left flank.

Tercious Repo Malepe - Orlando Pirates: What lies ahead for Sandile Mthethwa
Orlando Pirates: Tercious Repo Malepe of South Africa during the COSAFA Cup, Plate final match between South Africa and Malawi at Moses Mabhida Stadium on June 07, 2019 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)

Where can Orlando Pirates send Mthethwa?

If Mthethwa is loaned out, Pirates would ideally like to send him to a club in the Premiership to further test his readiness to help the Sea Robbers in the big time.

In terms of national honours, Mthethwa has slipped down the pecking order with the decision of Nikola Tavares to switch allegiances to South Africa. His rivals for spots in the Under-23 set-up almost all play in the PSL and Mthethwa must get similar exposure or risk having his career drift away into nothing.

In contrast to Mthethwa, 21-year-old Siyabonga Ngezana has nailed down a regular starting place in the Kaizer Chiefs lineup. Ngezana has been helped by poor showings from Amakhosi’s established defenders but his progression illustrates how Mthethwa’s time in the NFD hurts him in terms of Under-23 and international opportunities.

Mthethwa needs to play top-flight football though and wouldn’t benefit a great deal from being a fringe player at Orlando Stadium, especially with the Under-23s still in the hunt for a place at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

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