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Ndumiso Mabena and Craig Martin to add a new dimension to Orlando Pirates’ attack

Johannesburg — Orlando Pirates announced the signings of Ndumiso Mabena and Craig Martin on one and a half and two-and-a-half-year deals respectively on Thursday.

Mabena returns to the Sea Robbers’ for a second time, having initially played for the club for five years between 2009-2014.

During his stint with Pirates, Mabena won five trophies, including a successive trebles, before leaving to join Platinum Stars.

But it was recently with Royal AM where the 35-year-old proved that he still has plenty of offer, inspiring the team to qualify for the Caf Confederation Cup.

His relationship with Royal AM turned sour, though. So much so that he was released before the start of the season.

And after getting all the money that was owed to him by Royal AM, Mabena resurfaced at the Bucs’ training base under the watchful eye of Jose Riveiro.

The Spanish coach admitted to his liking for Mabena, expressing that he could still offer more up front even though he is in the twilight of his career.

But Riveiro finally got his man, with the versatile attacker agreeing to put pen to paper with Pirates on a one-and-a-half-year deal yesterday.

Mabena should strengthen Pirates’ attack. But he won’t be the only man that’s expected to bring a new dimension after Martin’s arrival.

The 29-year-old Martin is regarded as a late boomer, having made his top-flight debut for hometown outfit Cape Town City five years ago.

But he didn’t let that get to his head. So much so that his pace allowed him to prosper as a wingback, helping the club win the MTN8 title in 2018.

Martin had been such an integral figure for City, that he registered 100 appearances for them.

It appeared that he was never going to leave City, with the club recently rewarding him with a bumper five-year deal.

But that’s what happens when a player gives his best week in and week out: they catch the eye of suitors who will go the extra mile to get their man.

Martin’s stay with City has come to end as he packed his bag this week to start a new chapter with Pirates on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

He will be competing for a spot with the likes of Bandile Shandu and Thabiso Monyane – players who were integral in Pirates’ triumph in the MTN8 in November.

Martin’s success at Pirates should augur well for aspiring Capetonians who want to come to Gauteng – the harbour of local football – in the near future.

For years, Capetonian-born players have failed to make their mark in Gauteng after leaving the Mother City in search of greener pastures.

@Mihlalibaleka

IOL Sport