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Okonkwo among six new signings by Orlando Pirates

Written by: Sapa
Published: Monday, June 25, 2012

Onekachi Okonkwo was among six new signings unveiled by Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza in Johannesburg today.

This will be the Nigerian international’s second spell with the Buccaneers, having left the club in 2007 for a career in Switzerland and Qatar.

“We have had protected discussions over the last six months with the player,” Khoza said on the surprise signing of the midfielder.

“With Isaac Chansa leaving [for China], we felt that it was important to replace him in that position.

“We hope he [Okonkwo] can give us the same football that he gave us the last time he was here.”

Other new signings announced by last season’s treble winners were Free State Stars duo Ayanda Gcaba and Manti Moholo, along with Patrick Phungwayo from Wits.

The club also bolstered their youth with Khethowakhe Masuku from Black Leopards and Siya Mngoma from newly-promoted University of Pretoria.

All six players signed three-year contracts with Pirates but Khoza declined to go into further detail.

“We can’t reveal secrets… we are still the best in the [transfer] market,” Khoza said.

“Those who desire happiness and success must be prepared for war.

“Everybody is reinforcing. We are not done yet.

“There are still more players signing.”

Okonkwo, 30, was looking forward to playing under coach Augusto Palacios, and hoped his experience would count in their Caf African Champions League campaign next season.

Pirates were eliminated in the first round this year, but Okonkwo won the coveted continental club competition with Nigeria’s Enugu Rangers before his first spell with the Sea Robbers.

“This is where it started for me, and I’m happy to be back home,” he said.

“I had more options beside Pirates, in France and Belgium, but football in Europe can sometimes be stressing.

“I’m happy to be here where I can hopefully finish off my career.”

Gcaba and Moholo left Stars with the blessing of their former employers, after the club’s impressive campaign under Steve Komphela last season.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead, but will always be grateful to Stars,” said Gcaba, the defender who is on the fringes of Bafana selection.

“I had been there for four years and Stars allowed me an opportunity to move on.”

Among the players expected to be released, to make way for the new signings, was midfielder Andile Jali, who looked likely to sign with a French club.

Khoza said he would not stand in the Bafana player’s way should he receive an official offer in Europe.