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Since joining the Buccaneers last season, the 31-year-old has struggled to replicate the way he previously saw him as the Bafana Bafana patron.
Former Orlando Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwathi says Thulani Hlatshwayo “hasn’t been himself” since joining the Soweto giants and he needs some players to look up to at the club.
Hlatshwayo was signed by Pirates of Bidvest Wits in September 2020 with a brilliant profile as then captain of Bafana Bafana.
But the central defender struggled to recreate the form that made him a household name in South African soccer.
Criticism of him has continued this season in which he has appeared in every Pirates game in every competition.
While Lekgwathi talks about veteran Pirates players who need to guide the 31-year-old, like Captain Happy Jele, Wayne Sandilands, Siyabonga Mpontshane, Abel Mabaso, Ntsikelelo Nyauza could be considered experienced enough to lead Hlatshwayo.
“You know that when you join a great team there are a lot of things you have to adapt to, it doesn’t matter if you’re a star or not,” Lekgwathi said. Phakaaathi.
“Things are done differently in the big clubs and you always have to be one step ahead. He hasn’t been himself since he joined the Pirates and I think he needs to be guided well so that he can be the player we all know.
“Veteran players like Happy Jele have to guide him, they have to help me get back to his best because we haven’t seen him at his best since he joined the Pirates.
“We know that he is one of the best defenders in the country, we saw him in Wits and even in Bafana Bafana.”
Hlatshwayo’s difficult form moment has seen him lose the Bafana Bafana bracelet to SuperSport United goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
At Bucs, Hlatshwayo is currently wearing the captain’s armband in Jele’s absence and Lekgwathi feels that responsibility comes with great pressure.
“But now I think joining the Pirates and getting the bracelet really put him under a lot of pressure,” Lekgwathi added.
“He’s always trying really hard to make sure he doesn’t make mistakes and he wants to do everything perfectly, but it hasn’t worked.
“He needs to share responsibilities and, like I said, learn from the guys who have been on the team for many years. If he starts to do that, I think we’ll start to see progress in his game. “
The arrival of center-backs Kwanda Mngonyama and Nigerian international Olisah Ndah has expanded the selection options in the heart of defense.