THE BREAKDOWN: Can Tyson Fix Pirates’ Defence?
Is Thulani Hlatshwayo the right man for Orlando Pirates?
Orlando Pirates are targeting Thulani Hlatshwayo as a potential replacement for Lucky Lekgwathi and Siyabonga Sangweni and we now look at whether Hlatshwayo has what it takes to restore parity to the Bucs’ defensive line.
In Soccer Laduma issue number 1030, the Siya crew revealed that Pirates have identified “Tyson” as a potential marquee signing, with his progression over the years and his leadership qualities making him a standout player in Bidvest Wits’ title-winning campaign in 2016/17. However, could the PSL Player of the Year nominee bring about the change that is desperately needed in the Pirates team that conceded 1.33 goals per match last season?
The story behind Pirates’ defensive record last season, where they conceded the fourth most goals (40) over the course of the campaign appears to come down to the 17.2 shots conceded per match, which was more than any other club in the league - the league average was 12.5.
However, 55.8% of those shots were conceded from outside of the box, which goes to show that the central defenders rarely allowed strikers to occupy dangerous parts of the pitch, but rather that they failed to close down oncoming attackers as tightly as they would have liked.
In terms of Pirates central defenders, the regular partnership was Happy Jele and Ayanda Gcaba. Their defensive actions (tackles, blocks, clearances), passes, number of balls won and aerial duels are very similar, with Gcaba winning a higher percentage of his ground duels and Jele winning more per 90 – so there’s not a lot to choose between the pair.
Hlatshwayo, in comparison, averaged more defensive actions per 90 minutes, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but did compete in more duels – winning more than double the number of aerial duels per 90 than either Gcaba or Jele – and won more balls per 90. Wits also conceded the fewest shots per match in the division (9.8 per match) and had the second-best defensive record (0.73 goals conceded per match).
In light of this, it is clear that Hlatshwayo was individually superior to both Jele and Gcaba, but, perhaps even more importantly, he was a leader in Wits’ defence and the team as a whole, which allowed the team to stay solid at the back and achieve the kind of results that won them the league.
Do you think Hlatshwayo has what it takes to fix Pirates defence?