Da Gama to trim down Bucs squad

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Orlando Pirates head coach Owen da Gama had a reputation of producing players who could run for the full 90 minutes while he was at Platinum Stars and now he intends to toughen up a trimmed down squad to challenge for League honours in the final leg of the campaign.

Maybe he is not going about it the same way as former Free State Stars’ Nigerian Musa Abdullah did by taking his training squad to a ‘Boot Camp’ and giving them salt water to harden them up, but Da Gama says he intends to instill more discipline..

The Bucs’ mentor says on their website that he intends to cut the current 48-man squad down to a manageable 30 players before the second round kicks off, but he does not say which heads will role.

Word around the Parktown North office is that Edward Malinga, Kelebogile Mabe and Rudzani Ramudzuli could be making their way to Black Leopards, although other Premiership clubs have also expressed interest in Mabe.

Da Gama has also indicated that intends to bring in a few new faces.

Apart from Afcon 2008-bound Teko Modise and Excellent Walaza, Da Gama had a 100 percent turn out when training started this week. Even Zimbabwean hitman Ralph Matema who was only expected back at the weekend, pitched up while physiotherapist John William was conducting a light stretching session.Other foreign players, Destin Makita, Manuel Bucuane, Josephy Kamwendo, Gilbert Mushangazhike are expected today.

“There had been a lot of speculation in the media that I was planning a massive clearance. As a result, my phone was inundated. I have told the guys that I have submitted a recommendation to management to loan out a number of them.

“We are currently sitting with 48 players and I think 30 will be a more manageable number which will also provide us with enough depth if we qualify for the Caf Champions League. I have not recommended for any player to be put on transfer but finding teams to loan players out to could prove a challenge.

“I explained to the guys that they needed game time to prove themselves and such opportunities will be few and far between at Pirates. I want players to force me to recall them. Still, it will be management’s call to approve of my recommendations,” he added.

“The second half of the season is going to be very demanding. I explained to the guys that they will have to be super athletes to cope. I want them to be in good physical shape and that means hard work and we will be monitoring their life-styles even closer.”

Lidoda Duvha spokesperson Chief Thidiela confirms to snl24.com/kickoff that they are interested in Bucs’ Malinga after their move to sign Kaizer Chiefs’ midfielder fizzled out.

“It was not about being unable to pay Schalkwyk good salary but there were some other things being demanded by his agent which we failed to agree on.”

“We are close in finalising deal for Malinga, but as far Mabe and Ramudzuli are concerned, we haven’t discussed anything with Pirates. That’s just media speculation.”