Orlando Pirates’ hopes of returning to the South African football summit continue to be set back by a succession of injuries.
In the build-up to the game, it emerged that key attackers Thembinkosi Lorch and Deon Hotto were injury concerns, and neither made the match-day squad.
Then during the game, a knock to Vincent Pule forced him off in the 36th minute, leaving the Soweto side even shorter in terms of creative skillful players capable of putting in dangerous crosses, making defence-splitting passes or taking on and beating opponents.
They ended up having to rely on the likes of Tebogo Tlolane and Collins Makgaka, who have been fringe players for Pirates.
The Soweto side were already without other similar players such as Terrence Dzvukamanja and Evidence Makgopa, the latter yet to play since signing from Baroka FC.
Kabelo Dlamini was on the bench but had also been injured prior to the game.
Pule’s setback was the latest in a number of injury problems for the former Bidvest Wits star, who missed a large chunk of last season.
Also missing a big part of the last campaign with injury were Lorch and Zakhele Lepasa, and with Pirates’ key attackers constantly in and out the team, it’s always going to be hard to build rhythm in attack.
There have been some freak accidents too – like last season when Paseka Mako was involved in a horrific collision with his own goalkeeper Richard Ofori, which the diminutive left-back was fortunate to escape from without any major injury.
In another two incidents highlighting Bucs’ misfortune, last month against Marumo Gallants, Nkosinathi Sibisi and Tapelo Xoki clashed heads in going for a challenge, with Goodman Mosele and Bandile Shandu then repeating the same fate minutes later.
It’s been quite remarkable really how often Pirates have players missing through injury.
It makes one think of Liverpool coach Jurgen’ Klopp’s comments last month when he said “It was like we had a witch in the building, honestly! Every day, somebody else pulled out [of training] for the craziest reasons.”
‘Curses’ aside, Pirates’ continuing injury problems to important players make it very difficult to build winning momentum and Pule’s latest setback only adds to the issues.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Pirates have failed to hit any great heights over the past couple of years with all the injury problems they’ve had.
It also begs the question as to whether they have enough depth or if they should be making a couple more signings before the window closes in just under three weeks.