Hlatshwayo wary of Pirates trio threat

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Bidvest Wits captain and defender Thulani Hlatshwayo says they will not take their eyes off Orlando Pirates danger man Gabadinho Mhango for a minute in their Absa Premiership clash on Saturday at Ellis Park Stadium.

However, Hlatshwayo is well aware that they cannot afford to focus solely on stopping former teammate and Absa Premiership current top scorer Mhango as Vincent Pule and Fortune Makaringe will also pose a serious threat in the final third.

“We’ve played against Gaba. We know what kind of a player is. He’s rational. He just goes, he just plays, he just runs, just shoots from anywhere and he has done well for himself in the league,” said Hlatshwayo.

“He’s [Mhango] our top scorer for the league and obviously he’s want to add to his tally. We can’t say we know his strengths and his weaknesses, but we have to be alert at all times because as much as you look out for Gaba, there’s also Pule.

“There’s also Makaringe. They have quite a quality going forward with their pace and everything,” added the Wits and Bafana Bafana skipper.

Wits have already played two times since the restart as they held leaders Chiefs to a 1-1 draw at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night and suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Sundowns last Saturday in the Nedbank Cup semifinal in Soweto.

Hlatshwayo went on state that his teammates will have to be on high alert to deal with the ‘speedy Pirates team.

“We know what kind of a team Pirates is. A speedy team, their front three, front four. They are quick and they use their pace most of the time and it’s similar to the games that we’ve played against [Mamelodi] Sundowns and against [Kaizer] Chiefs,” he said.

“With their front three as much as they never really gave us problems last night, but with the combination play of Sundowns, we had to do a lot of shifting, a lot of movement.

“They move a lot, they don’t really have an out and out striker, so they play between the pockets, and I believe that Pirates is going to do that with Mulenga, because I watched the game against Sundowns, [Augustine] Mulenga would drop and they will play the balls on the sides and everything and they will try to use their pace,” concluded the Soweto born defender.

Meanwhile, Wits goalkeeper Ricardo Goss is anticipating an entertaining encounter.

“I think it will be entertaining, there have been a lot of goals [between the sides],” said Goss via a Zoom press conference of the South African Football Journalists’ Association (SAFJA).

“It was 4-3 at the Moses Mabhida [September last year] and 3-3 in the Nedbank Cup so it is usually very entertaining. I think it is 50/50 and the team that defends better will win,” added Goss.

Kick-off is scheduled for 18:00 at Ellis Park.

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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi 

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