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Orlando Pirates could have been better but the bigger picture is more important, says Mandla Ncikazi

Orlando Pirates players celebrate during the CAF Confederation Cup 2021/22 Semi Final match between Orlando Pirates and Al Ahly Tripoli at Orlando Stadium. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates players celebrate during the CAF Confederation Cup 2021/22 Semi Final match between Orlando Pirates and Al Ahly Tripoli at Orlando Stadium. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Published May 16, 2022

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Durban - Orlando Pirates survived a late surge of pressure to book a place at the 2022 CAF Confederations Cup final at Uyo Stadium in Nigeria on Friday.

Buccaneers co-coach Mandla Ncikazi believes the dynamics of the game may have affected his side's performance at different stages but it was important to always keep the bigger picture in mind.

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“Let’s thank the players for taking the team into the final, let’s thank the supporters for coming today – the weather was not the best and one must be grateful,” Ncikazi told the media contingent after the match.

“It was a tough match, bigger picture we went into the final, could we have done it in a better or cleaner way? Yes but subconsciously you could see the scoreline that we had, the dynamics behind this match was affecting our team but we controlled the match well.

The Buccaneers started the match on the back-foot as expected as they had a 2 goal buffer to defend. Al Ahly Tripoli had to provide the initiative as they looked for an early goal to fire them back into the tie.

The last stanza however saw an open game as the away side threw numbers forward and left gaps at the back for the likes of Thembinkosi Lorch and Deon Hotto to exploit.

“In the second half we could see a difference from the opposition and we had already highlighted a few things at the break. You could see this team was playing without fear, throwing everything at us," he explained.

"I'm just proud that the team achieved the bigger goal. At the beginning of the competition, if you were to say Pirates were going to be in the final, one would have been grateful.

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Ncikazi would've been disappointed with his side's failure to keep a clean sheet as they conceded a 89th minute goal but the former Golden Arrows mentor opted to think positively as a final showdown with Moroccan side Berkane drew near.

“Let’s take the bigger picture and work on the small elements that one picked up preparing for Nigeria which is going to be very tough," he said.

The Sea Robbers will need to be at their absolute best to claim their first ever CAF Confederations Cup when they come up against a Berkane side that is set to take part in their third confederations cup final in four years.

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