Battle of the left back position at Pirates

Orlando Pirates have recently beefed their squad with the signing of another left back Marc Van Heerden. The former Amazulu and Chippa United left back is currently in the books of Pirates and has already played a few games. He is currently injured and his place was taken by Patrick Phungwayo in Pirates’ previous game against Polokwane City.

The signing of Van Heerden means that Pirates have 3 players in the left positions which are Thabo Matlaba, Patrick Phungwayo and Marc Van Heerden. This is going to be a battle at the left back position at the team and the competition for the position is going to make the team one of the strongest teams in the PSL each and every player given the opportunity would be playing to secure the position.

Thabo Matlaba has previously made the left back position his own with brilliant performances in the Pirates colours especially in the CAF Champions League and the CAF Confederations Cup where he scored a number of important goals to help the team reach both finals although they did not win any of the two competitions.

Patrick Phungwayo on the other hand has struggled to make the first eleven in the Pirates team since he arrived three seasons ago. While playing for Bidvest Wits a few seasons ago, Patrick was one of the best left backs in the PSL but he has failed to make the grades at Pirates and that was one of the reasons for the team management to sign another left back in Marc Van Heerden.

Patrick has since been relegated to the bench and has only been given a chance to play only if there was no one to play in the left back position for the team. Pirates are currently going a rebuilding phase and should Patrick fail to make the grade under new coach Kjell Jonevret, he may face the exit door at Pirates but in the meantime he still has a chance to prove that he deserves to play in the team.

With the fact that the team has been conceding a lot of goals in the current season, they are looking into the possibilities of using Van Heerden as a full time left back and Thabo Matlaba as a midfielder. The reason is to make sure that the team has enough defenders when they are under attack from opposition teams as Matlaba has been going forward a lot of times leaving the gap at the left back position unattended.

Another option for Pirates to lure Van Heerden to the team was also to have enough cover for the left back position as they were looking at the possibilities of converting Matlaba to a right back position or a midfield position as he is very effective going forward than defending and also that he is right footed.

If Kjell should decide against all the mentioned options, it will only mean that the three players will have to fight for the position and that could prove very difficult as Matlaba has been wonderful in the position which also earned him a spot in the national team Bafana Bafana.

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