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Pirates youngster determined to earn game time after nerve-racking debut

Azola Tshobeni of Orlando Pirates
(Image credit: Backpaegpix)

The 18-year-old Orlando Pirates midfielder Azola Tshobeni says he hopes to build on his positive but nerve-racking debut for the Sea Robbers, adding that the hard work to find consistency has already begun.

The midfielder made his first-team debut in this past Saturday’s 1-0 win away at Maritzburg United, coming in with the team under pressure after two games without a win.

With coach Josef Zinnbauer somewhat pressurised, it came as a surprise when he handed Tshobeni his debut with the likes of Fortune Makaringe, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Nkanyiso Zungu and Siphesihle Ndlovu all on the bench.

Zinnbauer appeared pleased with the midfielder’s performance and with the fixtures coming thick and fast, as Pirates play TS Galaxy on Tuesday before the big Soweto Derby on Saturday afternoon, Tshobeni is determined to earn more game time.

'Now that my first game is behind me, I hope to build on this game and work on getting more matches under my belt. At the end of the day, it's one thing to play one match but to play consistently is a different ball game. It requires a lot more work,' Tshobeni told Pirates’ website.

After Augustine Mahlonoko and Lyle Foster, Tshobeni is the third-youngest Pirates player to debut in the PSL era.

'I am pleased with my debut. But, more importantly, I am happy for the maximum points that we got on the day,' said Tshobeni.

'In terms of personal accolades, this is indeed a day to cherish for me and my family. Everyone has been waiting for my debut since my promotion to the Orlando Pirates first team. I am still in disbelief as I did not expect to make my debut so soon and, not only that, but to debut as a starter makes this occasion that more special.

'When the whistle sounded at the start of the match, I was nervous. Even though the stadium was empty I knew everyone was watching from all corners of the country. It was nerve-racking at first, but I would like to thank my teammates for helping me settle. Their words of encouragement throughout the match helped me to play my football.'