Skhosana: Pirates players must show character

Orlando Pirates legend Jerry “Legs of Thunder” Skhosana has called on the Bucs players to toughen up mentally if they are to come out of a slump that saw them finish 11th last season.

It was their worst ever season as they managed only six victories in 30 matches. They also finished the season empty handed after being humiliated 4-1 by SuperSport United in the Nedbank Cup final on June 24.

Skhosana attributed that uninspiring run to the players’ lack of hunger and poor mental state. The Bucs legend said the chairman of the club had played a key role in motivating the players in the past, adding that “you do not want to hear the chairman’s voice again when he is angry”. He said Dr Irvin Khoza needed to come to the fore again and talk to the players as he did during his playing days.

“For me it’s important that the chairman needs to play his role again. I am not saying he is not. Maybe he is but the boys are not listening to his voice. But truly for me, for this team to continue moving forward, this is the challenge I am giving to the chairman, as a legend, to say he needs to come back and talk to the players more often,” said Skhosana.

Skhosana also added that the club’s legends needed to be given the opportunity to speak to the players to help them understand “what it means to play for Pirates”.

“We (legends) need to talk more to these boys and make sure they know the culture of the team and what it means to play for this team,” he said.

While the 2016/17 season is one to quickly forget for Pirates, they will have to venture back to correct what errors they committed then. Skhosana observed from the stands and appears to have drawn one key factor that led to the downfall of the once mighty Buccaneers.

“For me personally, I look at the players’ attitude. The attitude (on the field of play) tells you a lot, especially as an ex professional. When you look at those players, the way they are so laid back and so relaxed. To them it’s like, wearing the Pirates jersey you are already a winner.

“For me these players need a constant reminder and I want to be a little bit controversial on this one and say when Teboho Moloi was there, Pirates were doing well. You had different coaches but you had a legend in the mix. I am not saying Benson (Mhlongo) or Jazzy Queen (Harold Legodi) are not doing well. But for me Jazzy Queen honestly, I don’t feel he knows the culture of the team. And Benson, I don’t think he’s got that character to have a go at the players and remind them what it means to wear that jersey.

“You need someone who’s got that character. I am not trying to put myself in, but I know I am capable and more than willing to do that. I am currently doing my C License course now at HPC and maybe if I get my badges (coaching) I’ll be given a chance,” said Skhosana.

Given what he observed, Skhosana said Pirates only needed get one thing right and that was not even the quality of players.

“Given the opportunity to be there, I’d change the mindset, talk to the players. As I said it before, it’s not about the players that you sign at Pirates. Look at the players that came from Jomo Cosmos being relegated in 1993 to win the championship at Pirates the following year. It’s the mindset. For me you’ve got quality players at Pirates and the challenge is how do you put them into a collective to work for a common goal.

“At one stage you will recall I never wanted to go to Abidjan (1995 CAF Champions League) because supporters criticised me for not scoring in the first leg at FNB Stadium. They criticised me openly on radio while I was driving with my wife and that was humiliating to me. But imagine what I did six days after, it’s all about the mindset,” said Skhosana.