Orlando Pirates

Orlando Pirates is a South African football professional club founded in Orlando East in Orlando, Soweto, Johannesburg in the Gauteng Province of South Africa. Orlando Pirates competes in the Premier Soccer League of South Africa (PSL) and it is one of five clubs to have never been relegated since the founding of the PSL. Orlando Pirates’ headquarters are in Parktown, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa and the club’s home ground is in Orlando East, Soweto, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa.

Orlando Pirates Football Club Logo

Full Name

Orlando Pirates Football Club


Amabhakabhaka, Buccaneers, Bucs
Ghosts, Happy People, Ezikamagebhula
Ezimnyama Ngenkani, Sea Robbers
Founded 1937
Home Ground Orlando Stadium
Training Ground Rand Stadium
Chairman Dr. Irvin Khoza
Coach Vacant
Captain Oupa Manyisa
League Absa Premiership
2014/15 7th

2015/16 Kit

Home Away

Orlando Pirates is among South Africa’s oldest football clubs having been founded in 1937 as Orlando Boys Club in Orlando East, Soweto, Johannesburg, Gauteng in the Republic of South Africa – at the time Orlando East, Soweto, Johannesburg, Transvaal in the Union of South Africa.

The club was later named Orlando Pirates Football Club: ‘Pirates’ taken from a 1940  American Warner Bros. feature film The Sea Hawk starring Errol Flynn, while ‘Orlando’ is part of the club’s original name – the name of a township where the club was founded.

In the Premier Soccer League Orlando Pirates is the most successful club among it’s peers from the same era – which include: BidVest Wits (1921), AmaZulu (1933), Mpumalanga Black Aces (1937), Lamontville Golden Arrows (1943) and Moroka Swallows (1947).

Orlando Pirates was founded by the children of people who came to Johannesburg from rural areas to work in gold mines.

Those children gathered every time the opportunity presented itself to play football informally in open public spaces – those unorganized gatherings marked the formation of the Orlando Boys club, forerunner to today’s Orlando Pirates Football Club.

According to the website of Orlando Pirates FC, Andries ‘Pele Pele’ Mkhwanazi was a boxing instructor at the Boys Club who encouraged the informally gathered boys to form a team in 1937.

In 1938 those boys began competing – without soccer boots and without team kit – in a minor division of the Johannesburg Bantu Football Association (JBFA).

In 1939 the boys departed from the Orlando Boys Club and gathered at the home of Andries ‘Pele Pele’ Mkhwanazi who named the them “amapirates”, a combination of Zulu and English which in complete English means “the pirates” (‘ama’/ ‘the’-‘pirates’).

Now known as “amapirates” it would take 10 years for the now popular ‘skull and crossbones’ – associated with piracy – to appear on the club’s crest (badge). Even then, the crest was only on the club’s black blazers.

In 1959 the crest became commercially available to fans; this was after Rankus Maphisa, avid Orlando Pirates FC supporter, started a silk screening business in his back yard.

The now famous Orlando Pirates crest was inspired by the popular pirates films of the time which used the ‘skull and crossbones’ on military flags or insignia, expressing the recklessness or ferocity of the unit displaying it.

It is understood that Orlando Pirates FC at no point was it ever a political force, this was at the time of great political maneuvering, the club played a crucial role in uplifting the community and give a sense of family and belonging to it’s members as well as supporters through football.

Since it’s humble beginnings in the dusty streets and open spaces of Orlando, Soweto of unequal South Africa; Orlando Pirates embarked on a journey of incredible success and devastating setbacks while permanently etching their name in the history books of world football.


Pre-PSL Years: 1971 – 1996

The pre-PSL South African football history was marred in racial and political controversy that sought to segregate and oppress non-white South Africans, especially the blacks. The South African constitution at the prohibited racially mixed teams from competitive sport.

It is understood that this led to Orlando Pirates FC joining the South African Soccer League in KwaZulu-Natal because the league was non-racial, although it is unclear during what period.

It is worth noting that from 1959 to 1977 existed a league known as the National Football League (NFL) which has been described as the first professional association football league in South Africa. The NFL initially open to only two areas of South Africa  – Transvaal (today’s Gauteng) and Durban.

Furthermore; only white players were allowed to play, however, in 1976 a black player named Vincent Julius was allowed to play and no action was taken against him – reportedly – because his team convinced the South African Home Office that the story would be told all around the world and cast the ruling party in a bad light.

In 1977 a merger between NFL (for whites only) and NPSL (for blacks only) took place; a new all inclusive National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) was founded.

The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL)  for black only had been founded in 1971 and Orlando Pirates won the inaugural title and went on to win it two more times in 1973 and 1975 before the 1977 merger.

This all inclusive league lasted from 1978 until 1984; during this period Orlando Pirates FC failed to win the league title. In 1984 politics intervened again and paved a way for the formation of the National Soccer League (NSL) – founded in line with the principles of apartheid.

The NPSL continued alongside the – for whites only – NSL and Orlando Pirates won the 1994 NPSL league title which paved the way for their highest sporting honour to date, the 1995 CAF African Cup of Champions Clubs (today’s CAF Champions League).

In 1995 Orlando Pirates FC blazed a brave new trail in South African football history when they successfully competed against the giants African football on the way to their highest football honour to date; they defeated ASEC Mimosas (at the time ASEC Abijan) of Ivory Coast 3-2 on aggregate to be crowned 1995 African Champions.

In 996 Orlando Pirates FC defeated JS Kabylie of Algeria 1-0 to win the CAF Super Cup.

During this period Orlando Pirates also experience cup competition success: winning the South African Cup five times in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1980 and 1988; as well as the top eight cup also five times in 1972, 1973, 1978, 1983 and in 1993.


The Premier Soccer League of South Africa: 1996 – to date

The fall of the apartheid regime brought about new fortunes for the football in South Africa; in 1996 the prestigious Premier Soccer League (PSL) was founded following an agreement between the National Soccer League and what remained of the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL). The formation of the PSL meant stability and sustained growth for professional club football in South Africa.

Orlando Pirates is among five South African professional football clubs that have never been relegated to the lower tier since the formation of the PSL – the others being; Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows and Supersport United.

Orlando Pirates is the only South African professional football club that has never fallen outside the top eight since the formation of the PSL, in the 2007/08 PSL season, they finished 8th and this position is their lowest to date.

Orlando Pirates won their first league title in the PSL era under the mentorship of coach Gordon Igesund in the 2001/02 season and since then they have won the league title three times; 2002/03, 2010/11 and 2011/12.

They’ve have won the South African Cup on three occasions in the PSL era: in 1996, 2011 and 2014; the Top Eight on four occasions in 1996, 2000, 2010 and  2011; and the League Cup once in 2011.

  • Doubles

In the 2000/01 season Orlando Pirates FC secured their first ever PSL era double under coach Gordon Igesund with a Top 8 and the League.

  • Trebles

Orlando Pirates FC made history in the 2010/11 season when they became the only club to win the treble (League, Top 8 and SA Cup) in the PSL era, in that season they appeared in all domestic cup finals.

Orlando Pirates went on to repeat the feat in the following season, 2011/12, when they won the League, the Top 8 and the League Cup – making further history by becoming the only club in South Africa to win a treble in two consecutive seasons.

  • The Happy New Year

When Orlando Pirates won the League Cup, it was for the very first time in their history and they have not been able to win it again since.

That League Cup victory also meant that Orlando Pirates briefly held every single PSL sanctioned title into the new year (2012); they were the defending SA Cup and League champions from the previous season (2010/11), they were the Top 8 and League Cup champions in the new season (2011/12).

  • The Cup Finals 2013 – 2014

Orlando Pirates embark on a bitter-sweet journey when they reached five consecutive cup finals including the 2013 CAF Champions League final across two PSL seasons and only managed to win one; 2013 MTN 8, 2013 Telkom Knockout, 2013 CAF Champions League, 2014 Nedbank Cup (winner) and the 2014 MTN 8.

Their cup final reaching run was brought to an abrupt end by Gordon Igesund‘s Supersport United in the 2014 Telkom Knockout semi-final.



CAF Champions League and the 2013 Lubumbashi Controversy

In 1995 Orlando Pirates became the first South African club to win the CAF Champions League (at the time CAF African Cup of Champions Clubs) – as of the 2014 CAF Champions League not South African football club has been able to do so.

  • 2013 CAF Champions League

Following a dismal 2012 Champions League campaign in which Orlando Pirates were shocked 3-1 by Recreativo Desportivo do Libolo (or simply Libolo) at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth and only managed a draw away at Estádio Municipal de Calulo, Calulo in Angola- in 2013 they returned and experienced their best run since 1995.

Orlando Pirates began their 2013 Champions League campaign with a 5-0 drubbing of Djabal at Orlando Stadium and put it beyond doubt with a further 4-0 drubbing – progressing  to the next round on a 9-0 aggregate.

Orlando Pirates next met Zanaco; they beat them 1-0 away and 2-1 at home, progressing to the next round by 3-1 on aggregate.

Orlando Pirates next met Zanaco; they beat them 1-0 away and 2-1 at home, progressing to the next round by 3-1 on aggregate.

Senzo Meyiwa at Arab Contractors Stadium in Cairo in the 2013 CAF Champions Legue FinalOrlando Pirates met their toughest match in the tournament when they had to play TP Mazembe; in a much talked about affair, Orlando Pirates was not given a chance against the DRC giants.

In the first leg Orlando Pirates shocked TP Mazembe with a 3-1 defeat at Orlando Stadium, their convincing victory was not enough to sway the minds of the naysayers who strongly believed that TP Mazembe were an overall better outfit than the Soweto giants.

In the controversial second leg match TP Mazembe edged out Orlando Pirates by 1-0 but it was not enough to derail the campaign of the Soweto outfit. In the end Orlando Pirates progressed to the group stages with a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Orlando Pirates ended up in Group A with the Egyptian giants Al Ahly and Zamalek as well as AC Léopards of Congo. In that group Orlando Pirates and Al Ahly made it through to the semi-final; the latter topping the group  with 11 points and the former coming in second with 8 points.

In the semi-finals Orlando Pirates eluded Espérance on the way goal rule after a goalless draw at Orlando Stadium and a 1-1 draw at Stade Olympique de Radès in Tunisia.

In the final Orlando Pirates played to a 1-1 draw at home at Orlando Stadium in Soweto and lost 2-0 away at Arab Contractors Stadium in Cairo; Al Ahly won 3-1 on aggregate an they were crowned 2013 African Champions.

  • The Lubumbashi Controversy

The Lubumbashi controversy refers to a 2013 CAF Champions League round 2 – 2nd leg match between Orlando Pirates of South Africa and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The match was played at Stade du TP Mazembe, Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo on May 5, 2013 at 15:30 (South African time).

TP Mazembe vs Orlando Pirates 2013 CAF Champions LeagueOrlando Pirates went into the match on the back of the 1st leg 3-1 victory at Orlando Stadium; therefore TP Mazembe needed at least a 2-0 victory to win through the away goal rule.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was to receive a live feed from Lubumbashi and broadcast the match, reportedly as per an agreement between the SABC (who had filmed the 1st leg and gave the live feed to the channel in that country to broadcast the match live to it’s viewers) and DRC or Lubumbashi channel responsible for the broadcast in that country.

The match was within seconds of starting and not a single frame had been seen in South Africa ‘due to technical difficulties’. In the fast paced world of social media, everything that was occurring in that country began to find it’s way to South Africa.

Reportedly, the SABC journalists were not allowed in the stadium and their equipment was allegedly taken away from them while others were allegedly detained for the duration of the match.

Just about everything that took place on the pitch during the match was relayed via telephone or social media to the SABC who in turn shared it with it’s viewers.

This include a reportedly questionable red card that was given to Orlando Pirates veteran defender and captain Lucky Lekgwathi, the two penalties awarded to TP Mazembe which were both saved by the late Senzo Meyiwa.

Orlando Pirates was praised across South Africa for their courage in the face of adversity and in a match that was alleged to have been rigged against them.

Upon return to South Africa; Roger De Sá described the match “the worst I have seen in 35 years of competitive sport.” He continued “It was a nightmare. I never thought I would experience anything like it during my sporting career”.

“Apart from the two gift penalties awarded to Mazembe – both saved in breathtaking fashion by Senzo Meyiwa – and the inexplicable sending off of our captain Lucky Lekgwathi in the first half, we were under siege as a result of the actions of the referee for the entire match.  As the match progressed unabated in this same manner, I began to ask myself: ‘is this really happening? Is it sport?’ And if it is, I’d rather not have any part of it,” Roger De Sá was quoted saying.

“Even the partisan Mazembe supporters in the packed 30 000 crowd applauded us off the pitch at the end because they realised what was taking place – and yet their team was still not able to secure the extra goal that would have taken them into the next round of the competition.  It was almost as though the Mazembe players were waiting for the referee to go out and win the game for them instead of doing the job themselves,” Roger De Sá said.

It was also reported that the claims made by Roger De Sá were supported by South African Football Association (SAFA) head of delegation Elvis Shishana who was quoted saying: “It was a terrifying experience. Our lives were at risk”.

President of TP Mazembe Moïse Katumbi Chapwe issued a statement denying and dismissing the claims about the match as untrue, he also denied the claims about the reported incidents that took place off the pitch. The statement sought to distance TP Mazembe or their knowledge of any unfair and hostile occurrences.

Chairman of Orlando Pirates Dr. Irvin Khoza told the media that they would wait on the match commissioner’s report and move forward from there.

The Soweto Derby

The Soweto Derby referrers to a football match between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chief. The rivalry between these two Soweto giants dates back to January 24, 1970 – at the time Orlando Pirates was 33 years old while Kaizer Chiefs had just been founded 17 days earlier.

Down the years Kaizer Chiefs have dominated all the Soweto Derby statistics.


Orlando Pirates uses Orlando Stadium as their home ground. The stadium is situated in Orlando East, Orlando in Soweto, Johannesburg in the Gauteng province of South Africa.

Orlando Stadium InsideThe 40 000 seater Orlando Stadium is owned by the city of Johannesburg and is operated by Stadium Management South Africa.

It was originally built in 1959 as the home of Johannesburg Bantu Football Association and was renovated to it’s current state in 2008 in preparation for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Orlando Pirates has previously used Ellis Park Stadium as their home ground; it is understood that Orlando Pirates FC is one of the owners of Ellis Park Stadium but they have rarely played any official matches there in recent years.

Orlando Pirates also play at FNB Stadium; most notably, all Absa Premiership Soweto Derby matches – home & way – have been played there in recent years. During the 2013 CAF Champions League Orlando Pirates played at least one match (First round, second leg against Zanaco) at FNB Stadium.

Orlando Pirates uses the Rand Stadium in  in Rosettenville, Johannesburg in the Gauteng province as their training ground.


The Orlando Pirates crest (badge or logo – as it is often called) is among the most recognizable and unique in South Africa and Africa – it is not farfetched to say even in the world.

Orlando Pirates Famous LogoBethuel Mokgosinyana, a so-called ‘social worker’ who was widely respected in Orlando for his philanthropy, was the man who provided Orlando Pirates FC with its first kit.

Bethuel  Mokgosinyana was an enthusiastic footballer and had played for a team called Phiri Phiri earlier in his days. When he took the boys under his control he gave them Phiri’s old jersey, which had the ‘P’ crest on the playing jersey.

It was only after ten years that the famous skull and crossbones emblem was used, and then only as a crest on club’s black blazers. In 1959 the crest became commercially available to fans; this was after Rankus Maphisa, avid Orlando Pirates FC supporter, started a silk screening business in his back yard.

Before the introduction of the shield onto the playing jersey in the mid 60s, the Orlando Pirates crest adopted a circular shape but the skull and crossbones remained untouched. The shield would remain unchanged for the next 40 years.

Down the years, especially in the PSL era, the Orlando Pirates crest has undergone changes that served to refine it and continually bring it up to date with the current trends.

The Evolution of the Orlando Pirates CrestMost notably; in 1998 when the sharp edges were taken way, the top was rounded and the solid border around the entire perimeter of the crest was replaced with a artistic broken border. A touch of grey along the inside of the border was also introduced.

The star above the crest came about when Orlando Pirates FC won the CAF Champions League, embodies the clubs’ highest sporting achievement.

Orlando Pirates Football Club LogoIn 2012 as part of the 75th Anniversary celebrations; a 75th Anniversary kit was designed, reportedly reminiscent of the earliest kit – it features a round crest with a better integrated gold star to it as well as the introduction red lines.

The following season the Orlando Pirates returned to the old crest except for the goalkeeper who spotted a conspicuously shiny round crest.

In 2013, at the beginning of the 2013/14 season, the new kit came with a new crest – a further refined 75th Anniversary crest; without the “75th Anniversary” text, without the “1937” and “2012” on the either side of the star but a “1937” at the bottom; and the inner grey circle completely taken away while the outer grey circle was pulled in ever so slightly.

The touch of grey on the inside of the shield that was introduced in 1998 was made gold and the longer red lines appear thinner.

Kit (Jersey)

Jerry Skhosana Orlando PiratesOrlando Pirates in known for it’s historic black kit which has always been accompanied by an alternate/ or away white kit. Over the years the club has used an all black kit with white marking, an all white kit with black marking, white tops with black shorts and black tops whit white shorts.

In the late 1990s to the early 2000s at the height of the black shorts and white tops; a touch of grey was briefly introduced, presumably, in line with the grey contours on the crest between ‘the skull & crossbones’ and the white border – those grey contours have since been turned to gold.

Orlando Pirates briefly returned to using black at home and white away before abandoning white completely and introduced red as their away colour.

Orlando Pirates introduces red 2008-09In the 2008/09 season three jerseys were introduced; a home jersey (Black/Red/White), an away jersey (Red/White) and a third jersey (White/Black) which was meant to be used for Cup competitions.

Orlando Pirates marketing manager, Nkosana Khoza, talking about the introduction of red he was quoted saying: “he design and choice of colour for the away kit is a result of intensive research and discussion conducted amongst ourselves and Adidas. Orlando Pirates has a great tradition of setting the trend in kit design and to continue doing so this year, we decided to push the envelope a bit more by introducing this daring red number”.

A white jersey fell out of favour and the red colour also began to creep into the black home jersey more and more with the 2011/12 season jersey bearing the least red in recent memory while it’s successor regressed.

Orlando Pirates 75th Anniversary Jersey: Lucky Lekgwathi, Daine Klate, Andile Jali and Tlou SegolelaIn that season (2011/12) Orlando Pirates celebrated the 75th Anniversary and introduced a special kit almost halfway through the season; the kit was reportedly to be used for cup competitions.

Most memorably; Orlando Pirates wore the special 75th Anniversary kit in their 3-1 victory against BidVest Wits in the 2011 Telkom Knockout final at Moses Mabhida Stadium on December 10, 2011.

In the 2012/13 season Orlando Pirates introduced a home jersey that consisted of white tops and black shorts while the away jersey consisted of red tops and black shorts.

As of the 2014/15 season; the Orlando Pirates home jersey carries the most red – prominently placed in front of the Adidas stripes on both shoulders.

Dr. Irvin Khoza Era: 1991 – to date

Dr. Irvin Khoza, often referred to as Irvin Khoza, is the chairman of Orlando Pirates FC. His relationship with Orlando Pirates FC began in 1980, at the time he was the secretary of the club.

It is understood that Irvin Khoza is also the owner of the club but this is rarely ever mentioned in the media, he has always been referred to as the chairman of Orlando Pirates rather than owner.

He is often credited for the surge in fortunes for Orlando Pirates FC; it was under his chairmanship that Orlando Pirates became African Champions 1995 – a feat they nearly repeated in 2013.

Irvin Khoza also presided over the historic ‘double treble’ and the ‘happy new year of 2011’ when Orlando Pirates held every PSL official title.

It has been reported that Irvin Khoza rarely visits the clubs dressing room but always do when they play their arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs.

Management and Technical Team

Chairman: Dr. Irvin Khoza Head Coach: Vacant
Marketing Manager: Nkosana Khoza Assistant Coach: Teboho Moloi
Administrative Manager: Floyd Mbele Assistant Coach: Eric Tinkler (Interim Coach)
Team Liaison Officer: William Okpara Goalkeeper Coach: Alexandre Revoredo
Public Relations Officer: Mickey Modisane Team Doctor: Dr. Bobby Ramasia


DJ Cleo and JoyOrlando Pirates is among the best supported clubs in South Africa; it has been estimated that the supporters of the club range somewhere between 8 and 10million.

It is understood that clubs keep membership records of supporters which is used to calculate these numbers.

It is important to note that an average Premier Soccer League match in South Africa is often played to near empty stands regardless of the club’s following.

The most watched match in South Africa is the Soweto Derby (Orlando Pirates v Kaizer Chiefs) followed by any cup final then the South African Senior Men’s National Team.


Orlando Pirates have amassed numerous honours on the football pitch including the coveted CAF African Champions League (at the time CAF African Cup of Champions Clubs), the CAF Super Cup and ever single domestic title on offer.

Orlando Pirates’ achievement mean as of 2011 that they have one every single title they could possibly win at home and on the continent bearing in mind that the CAF Confederation Cup is superseded by the CAF Champions League. However it is important to note that the CAF Confederation Cup does not supersede the CAF Champions League.

Orlando Pirates FC Honours Since 1971 – to date

Season League Top 8 League Cup SA Cup Champions League Confederation Cup Super Cup Total
1971 Winner 1
1972 Winner 1
1973 Winner Winner Winner 3
1974 Winner 1
1975 Winner Winner 2
1976 0
1977 0
1978 Winner 1
1979 0
1980 Winner 1
1981 0
1982 0
1983 Winner 1
1984 0
1985 0
1986 0
1987 0
1988 Winner 1
1989 0
1990 0
1991 0
1992 0
1993 Winner 1
1994 Winner 1
1995 Winner 1
Total 4 5 0 5 1 0 0 15

Premier Soccer League Era: 1996 – to date

Season League Top 8 League Cup SA Cup Champions League Confederation Cup Super Cup Total
1996/97 3rd Winner Winner Winner 3
1997/98 3rd 0
1998/99 3rd 0
1999/00 2nd 0
2000/01 Winner Winner 2
2001/02 3rd 0
2002/03 Winner 1
2003/04 5th 0
2004/05 2nd 0
2005/06 2nd 0
2006/07 5th 0
2007/08 8th 0
2008/09 2nd 0
2009/10 5th 0
2010/11 Winner Winner Winner 3
2011/12 Winner Winner Winner 3
2012/13 3rd 0
2013/14 4th Winner 1
2014/15 4th 0
Total 4 9 1 8 1 0 1 24
*The total number of Orlando Pirates FC trophies displayed on the bottom right at the end of table does NOT include the four league titles won before the formation of the Premier Soccer League.



Club Records

  • Most appearances – William Okpara 375
  • Most capped Player – Teko Modise (South Africa) – 37
  • Most appearances in a season – William Okpara (1995), Oupa Manyisa and Senzo Meyiwa (2013/14) – 51
  • Most goals in a season – Dennis Lota (1999/00) – 23
  • Record victory: 9–1 against Olympics (SA Cup, 1999.03.07)
  • Record defeat: 1–6  against Sundowns (Top 8 Cup, 1990.02.03)




In the Premier Soccer League of South Africa, only five non-South African nationals can be registered by a single club. Foreign players who have acquired permanent residency can be registered as South Africans while Namibians born before 1990 do not count as foreigners

As of the 2014/15 PSL season Orlando Pirates have three foreign nationals on their books; Beranger Itoua (Republic of Congo), Helder Pelembe (Mozambique) and Issa Sarr (Senegal).

Current Orlando Pirates FC Squad

Number Nationality Player Position Number Nationality Player Position
The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Philani Zikalala Goalkeeper 21 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Siyabonga Sangweni Defender
2 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Ayanda Gcaba Defender 25 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Rakhale Midfielder
3 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Patric Phungwayo Defender 24 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Khethokwakhe Masuku Midfielder
4 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Happy Jele Defender 28 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Rooi Mahamutsa Defender
5 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Mpho Makola Midfielder 31 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Thamsanqa Gabuza Forward
6 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Thandani Ntshumayelo Midfielder 33 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Jacky Motshegwa Midfielder
7 34 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Ntsikelelo Nyauza Defender
8 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Matlaba Defender 36 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Mbongeni Gumede Defender
10 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Luyolo Maphundu Forward 37 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Maselaelo Seanego Forward
11 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Sifiso Myeni Midfielder 38 The Flag of the Republic of Mozambique Helder Pelembe Forward
12 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Lehlogonolo Masalesa Midfielder 44 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Ntando Nkala Goalkeeper
14 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Lucky Lekgwathi (Captain) Defender 45 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Lehlohonolo Majoro Forward
15 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Thabo Qalinge Midfielder 95 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Kermit Erasmus Forward
16 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Brighton Mhlongo Goalkeeper The Flag of the Republic of Congo Beranger Itoua Defender
17 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Gladwin Shitiolo Midfielder
18 The Flag of the Republic of Senegal Issa Sarr Midfielder
20 The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Oupa Manyisa Midfielder

Players on Loan

The Flag of the Republic of South Africa William Twala (Chippa United) Midfielder The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Manti Moholo (Chippa United) Midfielder
The Flag of the Republic of South Africa Daine Klate (Supersport United) Midfielder



Players who died During their Career

It is has been reported that Eric Bhamuza Sono, the father of Jomo Sono died in a car crash in 1965, however, it is not clear whether or not this was during the period when he still played for Orlando Pirates.

Another unclear death is that of Clifford Moleko, it is understood that number 13 at Orlando Pirates is retired as a Posthumous honour to him (Clifford Moleko), however there is no clear public record of his death.

  • Lesley Manyathela

Leslie ManyathelaLesley Manyathele was an Orlando Pirates FC forward (striker) who was on the perpetual rise at the time of his death. Lesley Manyathela joined Orlando Pirates FC in 2000 and made 73 appearances scoring 48 goals along the way.

In the 2002/03 season Lesley Manyathela was a driving force behind Orlando Pirates’ second league championship; he scored 22 goals, 18 of which were in league matches.

At the end of that season he was a top goalscorer; a feat no Orlando Pirates player has been able to achieve since his death.

He made his final appearance for Orlando Pirates FC on Saturday afternoon, August 9, 2003 in a match against Jomo Cosmos in which Orlando Pirates won 1-0  through his (Lesley Manyathela) goal.

Later that afternoon left Johannesburg in his VW Golf 4 en route to his home town of Musina approximately 528 kilometers away.

Lesley Manyathela had made it all the way to Musina in the Limpopo province when he got involved in a car accident that claimed his life. At the time his death, Lesley Manyathela was 21 years old.

  • Senzo Meyiwa

Senzo MewiyaSenzo Meyiwa was an Orlando Pirates FC goalkeeper who had risen through that club’s and SAFA junior ranks. At the time of his death Senzo Meyiwa was captain of Orlando Pirates FC and the South African Senior Men’s National Team (Bafana Bafana).

Senzo Meyiwa was shot, and later died from the gunshot wound sustained, on Sunday night of October 26, 2014 in Vosloorus in the East Rand, Ekurhuleni in Gauteng.

He died after leading Bafana Bafana to the verge of qualifying for the 2015 African Cup of Nation under coach Shakes Mashaba; in that qualification campaign Senzo Meyiwa did not concede any goals.

Senzo Meyiwa played his final football match in the colours of Orlando Pirates on Saturday night of October 25, 2014 in the quarter-final match of the 2014 Telkom Knockout against Ajax Cape Town at Orlando Stadium.

In that match Orlando Pirates overwhelmed Ajax Cape Town 4-1. Almost throughout the entire match the rain came down without relenting.

President Jacob Zuma declared that Senzo Meyiwa be given an official KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) funeral and on the day of the funeral flags be flown at half mast in that province.

The funeral service of Senzo Meyiwa took place at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and he was laid to rest at Heroes Acre in Chesterville, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.


Retired Numbers

1. Senzo Meyiwa, Goalkeeper – Posthumous

10. Jomo Sono

13. Clifford Moleko, Midfielder – Posthumous

22. Lesley Manyathela, Forward – Posthumous

William Twala wore number 10 in the 2013 CAF Champions League away match against AC Léopards.

In the 2015 CAF Confederation Cup all Orlando Pirates retired numbers will be used.

“Rule 6.5 of the regulations states that the jerseys of the players must be numbered from 1 to 30, and they must be identical to the numbers indicated on the players’ licenses for the whole duration of the competition,” Orlando Pirates Administrative Officer Floyd Mbele was quoted by News24.

The numbers and players who will wear them: 1.Brighton Mhlongo, 10. Oupa Manyisa, 13. Ntsikelelo Nyauza and 22. Kermit Erasmus.




Orlando Pirates has been besieged with coaching instability since the dawn of the PSL era. Some of the most dramatic departures include: that of Gordon Igesund who left the club in the wake of the Ellis Park disaster, a subsequent string of poor results and the attack by supporters of the club.

The other is that Ruud Krol who orchestrated the first treble in the 2010/11 season. It is important to note that Ruud Krol served the entire period of his three year contract.

Júlio César Leal, the mastermind behind the second half of the new year; he successfully defended the Top 8 cup, helped Orlando Pirates capture the League Cup which had eluded them for 28 years and set up the a successful defence of the League title- which in the end was executed by Augusto Palacios.

Orlando Pirates Coaches since: 1995 – to date

Coach Period Nationality
Viktor Bondarenko Russia
Joe Frickleton 1995 Scotland
Shaibu Amodu 1996 – 97 Nigeria
Ted Dumitru  1999 – 00 Romania
Gordon Igesund 2000 – 01 South Africa
Jean-Yves Kerjean 2001 – 02 France
Roy Barreto 2002 – 03 Zimbabwe
Kostadin Papić July 1, 2004 – November 17, 2005 Serbia
Teboho Moloi (interim) November 2005 – June 2006 South Africa
Milutin Sredojević June 13, 2006 – January 16, 2007 Serbia
Bibey Mutombo January 17, 2007 – September  24, 2007 DRC
Owen Da Gama September 27, 2007 – June 30, 2008 South Africa
Ruud Krol July 1, 2008 – June 30, 2011 Netherlands
Júlio César Leal July 1, 2011 – April 2, 2012 Brazil
Augusto Palacios (interim) March 12, 2012 – September 10, 2012 Peru
Roger De Sá September 10, 2012 – Jan 31, 2014 South Africa
Eric Tinkler (interim) January 31, 2014 – February 14, 2014 South Africa
Vladimir Vermezović February 14, 2014 – December 3, 2014
Eric Tinkler (interim) December 3, 2014 – to date South Africa



Notable Former Players

Orlando Pirates FC has been home to many footballers who have gone on to be impact makers in society: these include Kaizer Motaung – founder of their fiercest rivals, Kaizer Chiefs; owner and chairman of Jomo Cosmos, Jomo Sono who is also one of the founders of the Premier Soccer League;  current Bafana Bafana coach Ephraim Shakes Mashaba; as well as Sibusiso Zuma who enjoyed a successful career in Denmark with Copenhagen (FC København) after his time in Soweto; and Benni McCarthy who concluded his illustrious career in Orlando, undoubtedly among South Africa’s greatest football sons whose success in Europe, as a South African, is yet to be matched by another.

Notable Former Players of Orlando Pirates

Pre-PSL 1990s 2000s 2010s
Patson Banda (GK, RSA) William Okpara (GK, NGA) Mbulelo Mabizela (DF, RSA) Senzo Meyiwa (GK, RSA) †
Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba (DF, RSA) Mark Fish (DF, RSA) Joseph Makhanya (MF, RSA) Moeneeb Josephs (GK, RSA)
Johannes Khomane (DF, RSA) Gavin Lane (DF, RSA) Benedict Vilakazi (MF, RSA) Isaac Chansa (MF, ZAM)
Nick Seshweni (DF, RSA) † Edward Motale (DF, RSA) Lebohang Mokoena (MF, RSA) Thulasizwe Mbuyane (MF, RSA)
Webster Lichaba (MF, RSA) John Moeti (DF, RSA) Gift Leremi (MF, RSA) † Tlou Segolela (MF, RSA)
Jerry Sadike (MF, RSA) Phiri Tsotetsi (DF, RSA) Steve Lekoelea (MF, RSA) Teko Modise (MF, RSA)
Amos Mkhari (MF, RSA) Bernard Lushozi (DF, RSA) Thabo Mngomeni (MF, RSA)
Milton Nkosi (MF, RSA) Dan Malesela (DF, RSA) Lesley Manyathela (FW, RSA)
Ernest Makhanya (MF, RSA) † Dumisa Ngobe (MF RSA)
Albert Mahlangu (FW, RSA) Aubrey Lekwane (MF, RSA)
Marks Maponyane (FW, RSA) Brendan Silent (MF, RSA)
Kaizer Motaung Sr. (FW, RSA) Helman Mkhalele (MF, RSA)
Mandla Sithole (FW, RSA) Mandla Zwane (MF, RSA)
Ephraim “Jomo” Sono (FW, RSA) Sibusiso Zuma (FW, RSA)
Eric Bhamuza Sono (FW, RSA) † Basil Steenkamp (FW, RSA)
Jerry Sikhosana (FW, RSA)
Pollen Ndlanya (FW, RSA)
Andries Sebola (FW, RSA)
Pio Nogwera (FW, BRA)
Dennis Lota (FW, ZAM) †
Etienne N’tsunda (FW, DRC)
Osvaldo Nartallo (FW, ARG)
Jacky Ledwaba (RSA)