Buccaneers coach Eric Tinkler doesn’t only have to find a replacement for the club’s top goalscorer - who finished with 12 goals in all domestic competitions last season and five in the Caf Confederation Cup - he also has to find a striker who can make the club’s bulldozing forward Thamsanqa Gabuza play.
Gabuza has been the preferred centre forward, leading the club’s attack with his power and size.
Erasmus, lacking in both, complemented Gabuza well with his high work-rate and good playmaking abilities, which is why they formed a deadly combination.
Erasmus left with those skills to Stade Rennais. This has opened up space for Lehlohonolo Majoro, Tendai Ndoro, Gift Motupa and Letsie Koapeng to fill the void left by Erasmus.
“Now players need to step up,” Tinkler said. “Majoro needs to keep working hard. We know his capabilities. Now this has opened the door for guys like Tendai and Letsie .
“Those guys must step up, hold up their hands and state that ‘I am ready’, show me as the coach and the technical team that they can help this team.”
If Tinkler continues to play two up front, he will choose between these four men. But if he decides to start like he finished the Soweto derby, in a 4-4-1-1 line-up that saw Mpho Makola slot in as the playmaker while Issa Sarr was the enforcer and Sifiso Myeni played behind Gabuza, Tinkler’s search will be for a link-man.
The Zimbabwean forward leads the race to partner Gabuza after Majoro failed to impress. Ndoro packs a powerful shot and has good stamina. But his problem is that he is too similar to Gabuza, he is clumsy and doesn’t have the technique of the good playmaker that the outfit desperately needs.
Majoro was given a head-start in the battle to replace Erasmus but he has wasted that chance, disappointing in the Soweto derby and missing a penalty in the 1-0 defeat to Cosmos. The striker has looked lazy and timid when starting, but fiery and driven to prove a point when he comes off the bench.
Koapeng has an advantage in that he has worked with Tinkler for a long time, since his days as a junior at Wits. But he has failed to make a lasting impact, with the Buccaneers even sending him on loan in the first division. He has scored some impressive goals in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge, which should boost his confidence.
Oupa Manyisa’s replacement could be right under Tinkler’s nose in the former Baroka FC captain. Motupa joined the Buccaneers as a playmaker, bossing the area that Manyisa did before his injury. If Motupa can take over as a playmaker, Tinkler could afford to play two similar strikers with the under-23 international supplying them. He could also be tempted to push Motupa up front to partner Gabuza. He has led the attack of the U23s in the past, showing his versatility.
Original source: Which Pirates player will take Kermit’s role?