Orlando Pirates star Issa Sarr cemented his place into the Bucs starting line-up after signing for the club last season. Growing from strength-to-strength in his holding midfield role, Sarr formed a solid partnership alongside Oupa Manyisa in the heart of midfield.
His time in the first team meant that fellow holding midfielder, Lehlogonolo Masalesa, had to face time on the fringes. That being said, coach Eric Tinkler has been rotating his squad in a bid to keep the team fresh as they head into crucial CAF Confederation Cup duties.
As a result, the player known as ‘Vieira’ received much-needed game time in the process. Masalesa hasn’t done too badly when called upon and has efficiently gone about his business.
Is Vieira now more ready than ever to break into the Pirates starting XI?
The 23-year-old never really got the wheels in motion after signing for Bucs from Bidvest Wits back in 2012. He was regarded as one of the country’s leading young talents, after being compared to French legend Patrick Vieira.
Masalesa’s talent was evidently displayed in Bucs' epic run to the 2013 CAF Champions League final, where he was given game time by former coach Roger De Sa. Since then, we haven’t seen much of the imposing midfielder.
What may work in his favour with regards to challenging Sarr for a place in the team is that he is finally getting minutes on the pitch. Should he emulate his performances in Africa from two years ago, then there should be no reason to exclude him from the team’s plans going forward.
As a long-term investment, Masalesa still has a lot to learn - while Sarr offers a little more experience when it is needed. It is positive that Vieira is at a club where youth is appreciated, and he is likely to get the chance to prove himself.
This may well be his best opportunity, do you think Vieira will break into the first team soon?