Orlando Pirates head coach Josef Zinnbauer has defended captain Thulani Hlatshwayo after his latest error against Mamelodi Sundowns.
'Tyson' arrived at Pirates in the off-season with a sterling reputation as the Bafana Bafana captain, a former league winner and over a decade of top-flight experience.
However, the 31-year-old has struggled for form of late and was guilty of individual errors in the 3-0 defeat and the 4-1 thumping over Sundowns' in the space of three weeks.
But Zinnbauer has leapt to the defence of the robust defender revealing that his influence in the squad goes beyond what is seen on the pitch.
"I don't want to talk about mistakes by my players, we do this internal[ly] but I can say that it is always in a situation where players have bad times and good times," Zinnbauer said.
"When we talk about the start of the season, he was very strong for us, he is a leader and he fights. At the moment, you can see he is a bit unlucky.
"He's played a lot of games without breaks, he is always on the field fighting, he trains 100 percent, he goes forward, he leads the team. It is not so easy when we speak about a leader, when we speak about a captain.
"He is not alone on the field and after training sessions, he doesn’t say it’s finished for me, no. During training, before training and after training he talks with the younger players."
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He added: "He leads the guys, he gives them motivation and he gives the young players and others who have some problems. He is everywhere and it’s not easy for us to say he can focus on himself.
"We need to give him a bit more time and maybe he can rest and recover. He is a big player and a national team player - you know around the whole world we have players like in Germany [Jerome] Boateng was one of the best and he also had problems in his career.
"This [loss of fom] is normal but he's a big player, we trust him, we believe in him, we need him and go forward with him - it's not a problem. He knows himself, trust me, he knows what he did but there's a whole team in a game and not him alone."
Hlatshwayo has featured 33 times for the CAF Confederation Cup quarter-finalists in all competitions this season.
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