The Buccaneers tactician talks about the first player he had a chat with when he arrived at the club and gives his impression on the defender

Orlando Pirates assistant coach Mandla Ncikazi has given guarantees “a different” Thulani Hlatshwayo will be witnessed in the upcoming 2021/22 season.

Defender Hlatshwayo arrived at Pirates last season with a huge profile of being Bafana Bafana captain but struggled to live up to expectations.

But Ncikazi believes the defender will rise up again and return to his best.

“The first discussion I had with any player at the club was with Tyson [Hlatshwayo],” Ncikazi told Metro FM as per iDiski Times.

“Great human being, very intelligent. He is not a captain by mistake. History, how he grew up at Ajax… But I can guarantee you one thing, you will see a different Tyson, I can put my head on the block.   

“Wait for it, if we don’t go 10 games without a changed Tyson, phone me and I owe you something.  But I can guarantee you, we will see a different Tyson.” 

At one stage last season, Hlatshwayo was relegated to the bench with Innocent Maela being switched from the left-back to centre-back position.

Now with a new central defensive addition in Kwanda Mngonyama, it is to be seen whether Hlatshwayo will enjoy regular football in the upcoming season.

He already faced competition for playing opportunities from captain Happy Jele, Ntsikelelo Nyauza and Maela.

Ncikazi says they found time to discuss Hlatshwayo’s performances with the player himself.

“We spoke. We spoke about a lot of things, about the team, his individual performances, where he wants to get this season, what he wants to achieve,” said Ncikazi.

It is also yet to be seen if Hlatshwayo will be able to get back to top form and reclaim his Bafana Bafana jersey as well as the armband.

He will begin that bid by helping Pirates get past Swallows FC in next Saturday’s MTN8 quarter-finals.

After that, Pirates kick off their quest for a first Premier Soccer League title in a decade when they host Stellenbosch on August 21.

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