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Thabo Qalinge feels Mpumalanga Black Aces are still in title contention

Posted: 17 February 2016 Time: 14:01

Orlando Pirates player Thabo Qalinge believes Mpumalanga Black Aces are still in the title race, as he reveals the difference between his former and current clubs.

Last season there were talks that Aces could be sold to AmaZulu but the deal didn’t go through. And this season AmaZayoni – under the guidance of Turkish coach Muhsin Ertugral – hit the ground running and are currently lying third in the PSL standings, level with second-placed Bidvest Wits and nine points behind log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.

Qalinge was influential at Aces under Clive Barker before joining Orlando Pirates, and this weekend he might meet his former employers, should he be available for selection following a minor injury lay-off.

“The team is doing well, playing good football and challenging for the League title and I’m happy for them,” Qalinge tells KickOff.com. “They are surprising a lot of people and I’m really happy for them. And I believe they have a good chance of winning the League if they continue playing like this way.”

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Ever since joining the Buccaneers, the tricky winger has not had things easy, making only eight starts in two seasons. Yet the 24-year-old says he is happy to be Buccaneer and points out the major differences between playing for the two teams.

“The difference between playing for Aces and Pirates is that when playing for a team like Aces, you get support but not as much as Orlando Pirates,” he says. “At Pirates, you know when you play you have a lot of people watching you and that puts you under tremendous pressure. If you are mentally weak, it will destroy you but if you are strong mentally then you will be okay.

“Even the media attention is not the same – you are always under spotlight and have to do things right. When you play for Aces, you do get attention but not as much. But the level is not that different because any team is capable of beating any team. But I’m definitely happy here.”

Bucs travel to Mbombela Stadium on Sunday to take on Aces following Wednesday night’s fixture against Free State Stars. Kick-off this weekend is scheduled for 15:30.

*Catch the full and exclusive interview with Pirates' tricky winger Thabo Qalinge in the next edition of KICK OFF Magazine, on sale in all metropolitan areas this Friday, and countrywide next week!

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