Orlando Pirates’ 10-goal star not playing – Here’s why

Orlando Pirates striker Zakhele Lepasa has had a storming start this season, scoring 10 goals. Why has he disappeared? His coach, Jose Riveiro, has responded.

ORLANDO PIRATES COACH JOSE RIVEIRO EXPLAINS ZAKHELE LEPASA ABSENCE

Lepasa’s last league start for the Sea Robbers was back in September 2023 against Mamelodi Sundowns. Since then, the likes of Evidence Makgopa and later Tshegofatso Mabasa have led the line for Orlando Pirates. Speaking to the media last week against Lepasa’s absence, coach Riveiro suggested that the Soweto-born Lepasa needs to adapt to the team’s set-up of playing with one striker.

“Zakhele was scoring; he scored a hattrick early in the season. He was really in a good space with a very high ratio of minutes played and goals,” the Orlando Pirates coach said via FARPost. “But we play with one striker, with one number nine, or however you want to call it. And now he’s not in a considerable number of minutes.

“That’s why he’s not scoring in the games. He’s training well, fighting, and trying to understand what we expect from him and everyone in his position,” the Orlando Pirates tactician concluded.

What about his Bafana Bafana future? Coach Hugo Broos recently said he is not too concerned.

“I’m not worried about him. We have three good strikers, three different profiles with [Lyle] Foster, with [Lebo] Mothiba, and [Bongokuhle] Hlongwane. I’m very happy about that,” Broos said FARPost.

“I said it a long time before, Lepasa is a very good striker. He just needs confidence. But like any other player, sometimes he couldn’t go like he was doing because he should be scoring goals.”

ZAKHELE LEPASA TO DEPART?

Orlando Pirates management and certain high-profile players have some big contract decisions to make. Zakhele Lepasa is on the list. This might surprise a few supporters. The Soweto-born striker could leave the Sea Robbers when his contract expires in June 2024.

Five years ago, Lepasa rejoined Orlando Pirates after impressing on loan at TS Galaxy. The 27-year-old from Soweto had emerged from the club’s youth before loan spells at Stellenbosch FC and the Rockets. Since playing for the Bucs’ first team, Lepasa has delivered 15 goals and two assists in 64 matches—not forgetting the two goals he scored on loan at SuperSport United.

According to available records, Orlando Pirates came close to offering Lepasa a deal last year when he was flying high, but the form did not last long enough. With the attacker’s deal ending in June, the club could allow Lepasa to leave as a free agent.

Should the club keep or release Lepasa? Let us know in the comments section below.