Orlando Pirates will build on the gutsy Brazzaville showing ahead of Martizburg United clash, says Mandla Ncikazi
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Cape Town - Fresh from their continental engagement over the weekend, Orlando Pirates take on Maritzburg United at Harry Gwala Stadium tomorrow.
Pirates would have been pleased with the 0-0 draw against Diables Noirs in the first leg of their CAF Confederation Cup first-round clash at Alphonse Massamba-Debat Stadium in Brazzaville, Congo, on Friday.
Now back on home soil, Pirates will be keen to continue in that vein.
This season, both Pirates and Maritzburg have been inconsistent. Pirates are in seventh place on the Premiership standings and should be favourites against the hosts. They were held to a 1-1 draw by Cape Town City in their previous league game.
Maritzburg are several places lower down the standings in 11th place and are on a two-match losing streak. The home team suffered a
2-1 defeat to Royal AM earlier this month and will want to bounce back.
In their previous meeting, Pirates and Maritzburg clashed in the Nedbank Cup earlier this year and that ended in a 3-1 victory for the Buccaneers.
For now, Pirates seem to have settled their defence, and their rearguard was impressive as they did not concede away to the Congolese outfit.
The draw over the weekend extended the Pirates' winless run to three matches across all competitions.
Pirates caretaker coach, Mandla Ncikazi, reflected on the weekend’s match saying the team will build on the gutsy performance in Brazzaville.
“One must remember that we can beat these opponents when we play at home in Johannesburg (next weekend),” said Ncikazi.
“I am happy with the performance of the players and how they applied themselves in difficult conditions.
“Based on the conditions that we faced in Congo-Brazzaville, let’s take the point and the performance of the players on what was (an) artificial turf.
“With how the opponents treated us, one has to appreciate the personality and character of the players.
“Let’s take the point because we are not done yet, but we must remember if they score against us at home there are going to be problems.”
Ncikazi will be going into tomorrow’s match with mixed emotions. He is a former Maritzburg coach and worked there before joining Golden Arrows last season.
Goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane was in fine form over the weekend and produced several good saves to deny the hosts. His performance in goal will be crucial for Pirates.
Another player to produce a stand-out performance was midfield dynamo Paseka Mako. He worked tirelessly down the left flank and kept asking questions from the opposition defence.
He was at the heart of Pirates’ attacking sorties down the flank, and his goalmouth crosses kept his front runners in play.
It will be a different Pirates team if the front-runners can strike up cohesion with the midfield.