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Mjempu: That’s Why I Struggled At Pirates

Former defender Lizo Mjempu has spoken on why he struggled at Orlando Pirates which led to his short-lived spell with the club.

In 2011 when he joined Pirates, Mjempu was one of the promising left-backs in the PSL, having impressed with his performances for the star-studded Ajax Cape Town side at the time under renowned veteran Dutch coach Foppe de Haan.

Read: Khanye: Still Early For Benni To Coach Chiefs/Pirates

However, the Eastern Cape-born defender struggled for game-time at the Soweto giants and was later released to Moroka Swallows after only one season.

The 38-year-old, who is coaching Mpumalanga-based ABC Motsepe League outfit Bayern FC, says a positional change affected his progress at the Buccaneers.

“When you look around the league, the only team that plays the kind of football that we play as South Africans is Sundowns. Sundowns play with flair and true South African style, otherwise most clubs in the league just kick the ball to move forward. The influence of foreign coaches who come to coach in the PSL has affected our football big time and it’s difficult for us to return to our culture and identity. These coaches expect all our players to mark and win the ball although that doesn’t happen at international football where you don’t see guys like Ronaldo, Messi and Neymar marking,” said Mjempu.

Read: Asset Lost To Usuthu, Pirates Urged To Go For Benni

“I mean, you can’t expect a player like Mark Mayambela to be running around the field and trying to win the ball from opponents because that is not what he is skilled at. As a full-back, I, as Lizo Mjempu should be able to cover for him and do the marking whenever he loses possession when we try to attack as a team. That used to my role throughout my career, and I used to cover for (Khama) Billiat, (Thulani) Serero and a lot of the other guys I played with at Ajax Cape Town. That’s why I struggled at Pirates because they wanted me to join the team in attack and I am not an attacking kind of a player. But I do understand that football has evolved, but we are getting confused at times because full-backs are required to attack more just like attackers although the way I understand it a full-back’s priority should be on defending,” he said.   

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