Pirates coach puts to bed speculation about Lepasa’s shock exit

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro has dealt with mounting speculation about the sudden departure of star striker Zakhele Lepasa.

In a move that shocked the local football fraternity, Bucs announced on Tuesday, the last day of the January transfer window, that they have loaned out the rising and improving goal scorer to SuperSport United until the end of the season.

“Fist and foremost, I would like to wish Zakhele all the best in the future,” Riveiro told a media briefing on Wednesday ahead of their crunch fixture against Mamelodi Sundowns at Orlando Stadium on Saturday. Kick off is at 3.30pm.

Riveiro explained further: “Zakhele is a fantastic guy and a very good football player. This is a very competitive environment, we have 36 players in the squad, so there are no guarantees of playing.

“It is not only Zakhele, all the other players may decide that they need to play in a different place to get more game time. I will respect and accept that as a coach. Hopefully Zakhele can show at SuperSport the kind of player he is.

“It is normal in football, especially when we talk about big squads and a quality squad that we have. It is difficult to give players what they deserve, it’s almost impossible and sometimes players will decide to leave and get that game time elsewhere.”

Lepasa has scored a single goal in 10 outings for the Buccaneers since the start of the year. He was deemed surplus after Pirates beefed up their attack with Cameroonian striker Souaibou Marou. Other forwards in the Bucs camp include Terrance Dzukamanja, Evidence Makgopa, Ndumiso Mabena and Kermit Erasmus.

Lepasa joined Bucs after a loan spell with TS Galaxy, where he led the club to the Nedbank Cup final victory against Kaizer Chiefs in 2022, scoring from the penalty spot at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

At United, Lepasa will have to fight it out with top strikers including Thamsanqa Gabuza, Brad Grobler and Gamphani Lungu to earn a place in the starting line-up.

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