Can Motshwari and Nyatama partnership influence Pirates' title ambitions?
Orlando Pirates have a strong central midfield‚ but on the evidence of one opening victory‚ their partnership of Ben Motshwari and Musa Nyatama might be instrumental in the Bucs’ ambitions of a first Absa Premiership title since 2012 this campaign.
Nyatama was Pirates’ Player of the Season as they finished runners-up to Mamelodi Sundowns by five points in 2017-18.
Motshwari was Bucs’ most influential central midfielder as the Soweto giants finished second to Downs again‚ but closed the gap to two points in 2018-19.
If the two can fire together‚ they will form a formidable middle two for Pirates‚ with Xola Mlambo and new signing Fortune Makaringe adding further options should there be injuries or coach Milutin Sredojevic opt for a midfield three.
On Saturday night at Orlando Stadium Motshwari and Nyatama played too far apart as Bucs ended the first half 1-1.
In the second half the midfield duo narrowed‚ and were formidable stamping their authority‚ snuffing out dangerous attacks‚ winning the ball and turning defensive situations into attacking ones.
“‘Musa-linho’ is a pillar of this team since he has come to Pirates. A versatile player who could satisfy anything that football demands‚” Sredojevic said afterwards of Nyatama.
“He is a two-way traffic player. A player who helps us in build-up play‚ and also in protecting the goal.
“We are honoured‚ pleased and privileged to have such a human being and such a player amongst us. A player who is also visible to us‚ but invisible to many.
“An unsung hero and person who does all the work‚ and is something of an authority on the game model that we are playing.”
Silky-skilled former Maritzburg United‚ SuperSport United and Bloemfontein Celtic midfielder Nyatama wins the ball more through excellent anticipation than physicality.
Ex-Bidvest Wits middle man Motshwari is more forceful in the challenge‚ but also has good close control with his feet and a powerful shot.
Either can drop back as a ball-winner‚ or maraud forward with an eye for a pass‚ making them an interchangeable pairing whose next move can be hard to anticipate.
“Ben is a quality player. If you noticed when we started [against Celtic] he was on top of the [midfield] diamond and I was alone in the centre‚” Nyatama said.
“But with him coming to help me out in the centre‚ especially in the second half‚ that’s when we were able to help each other.
“That’s when we were able to control and dominate the game.”
Pirates turn to the 2019-20 Caf Champion League next‚ where they are away against Zambia’s Green Eagles in Lusaka on Saturday.