ORLANDO Pirates utility player, Bandile Shandu, is convinced that they have the squad that can push defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns all the way this season under the tutelage of new coach, Jose Riveiro.
Bucs will be one of the teams looking to close the ever-widening gap that Downs have opened in the DStv Premiership in recent years, winning the last five league titles on the spin.
But that dominance will come to an end this season, according to Shandu, who insists the Soweto giants will be the ones to put a stop to the Downs juggernaut. Bucs open their league campaign with a clash against Swallows FC in a traditional Soweto derby, to be played at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday (3pm).
“We are strong enough to challenge them (Sundowns),” said Shandu.
“Orlando Pirates have always been strong, before me and even when I came. So, that’s why it’s unacceptable to go a season without a trophy. We always have to win trophies. Our supporters always want to win and that’s what they deserve. We are looking strong, and we are looking to contest for every single trophy that is available. We have taken lessons from last season, and we need to take our chances because that’s the one thing we struggled with and it needs to improve this season.”
Pirates have bolstered their squad with the addition of six new players in Miguel Timm, Eva Nga, Evidence Makgopa, Nkosinathi Sibisi, Thapelo Xoki and Azola Matrose, who has rejoined Chippa United on loan.
Shandu, who was one of the new boys last season, says his new teammates are settling as quickly as he was able to do and believes they will make a lot of difference when the season commences.
“All the new players look like they have been playing for Pirates for all their lives. They have all settled in very well, they were welcomed with warm hearts and that has made their integration seamless. I think it’s going to show on the field, you will see the bond that we have created and the brotherhood. It will be evident when we take to the field,” added Shandu.