Cape Town — Orlando Pirates showed remarkable composure in their 2-0 win over JS Saoura in a Caf Confederation Cup match on Sunday, and it augers well for the rest of the season.
This improvement coincides with the return of players from lengthy lay-offs, notably Thembinkosi Lorch, who was a thorn in the side of the visiting Algerians on Sunday. He had a hand in both goals. He is slowly returning to his best form and will soon rank among the top midfielders in the country.
Lorch sparked some good inter-link football from midfield, and his feeds to players out wide allowed Pirates to turn on the pace down the flanks, This ploy was a problem for the visitors throughout the match.
The Algerians roughed up Pirates on occasions, but they campaigned like hard-nosed campaigners and kept their shape and structure. Their discipline never let them down, while the same can't be said for the Algerians and their technical staff, who earned the wrath of the referee for their constant whining and complaining.
Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi is hoping the players will show the same perseverance and mental toughness against Lamontvill Golden Arrows on Wednesday when they return to the Orlando Stadium. After that, the is a trip to Libya for the Confederations Cup match on Sunday.
“We just have to focus on our next assignment which is Golden Arrows on Wednesday,” said Ncikazi afterwards.
“We had a good start against the Algerians,” said Ncikazi said. "We’ve always wanted to start our group assignments with a win. It is the sort of competition that determines that you need to start well because if you go away, you don’t know what to expect, especially when you play in Africa.
“I am happy for the players, happy for their effort. I thought we did the right thing by scoring first, but I thought maybe scoring early, there were moments where there was a bit of panic in our team in later play.
“I thought maybe with the subs, we stabilised and played better.
“It was important to get the second goal because that killed them. I thought after that we controlled the game well. We had a very strong defensive game.
“The preparedness from the whole team came to the fore. This Saoura is a good team, a very good team.
"They are multifunctional and that's what they presented. You will think they will play in a block when they’re playing away from home, but they just played an open game."
Pirates captain Happy Jele said the team's preparation and analysis of the opposition was key to the victory against Saoura.
“I think we fought hard right to the end," said Jele. "It was a difficult game, and the opponents were very good.
"We did our homework to analyse them.
"We capitalized on the chances that came our way. We knew that in the set-pieces, they are very suspect so the first chance that we got, we scored with a set-piece.
"What we practised, we implemented and that pave the way for the victory."