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Orlando Pirates are not at a level of a big club, says co-head coach Mandla Ncikazi

Mandla Ncikazi, co-coach of Orlando Pirates. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Mandla Ncikazi, co-coach of Orlando Pirates. Picture: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Published Oct 3, 2021


Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates co-head coach Mandla Ncikazi admitted that his team are not living up to their reputation as one of the biggest clubs in South Africa.

Pirates were held to their third draw of the season by Cape Town City on Saturday, and were in fact fortunate to hang on for the 1-1 stalemate in the end as the home team dominated the second half at the former 2010 World Cup stadium. The Buccaneers are now in sixth place on the Dstv Premiership log with just nine points from six matches.

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"I am highly disappointed by the result. Cape Town City is a good team. But every game Pirates should be looking to win as Pirates have to be on top all the time," Ncikazi said.

"We failed to adapt to their structure and changed our own. I don't think this is how we planned to play second half.

"Pirates are not at the level where everyone expects them to be. Currently we're not reflecting in our performances the name that we have. People should be proud of Pirates, but honestly, I don't think we are at that level."

Pirates certainly showed off some of their good qualities, particularly during a dominant first half display, but they faded badly in the second period after both teams were forced into substituting their respective centre backs.

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Congolese international Nathan Fasika came off for the Citizens at halftime and was replaced by Nigerian midfielder Abdul Ajagun‚ with the home team switching from their three central defenders formation.

This resulted in City taking control of the possession stakes and thereby creating more opportunities. Equally, Pirates were also forced into a change at the back in the 77th minute with Nigerian international Olisa Ndah, who was making his debut for the Bucs, hobbling off to be replaced by Thulani "Tyson" Hlatshwayo. This change though had the reverse effect for Pirates.

"Whether it was planned by our opponents or if it was the forced change of their centre back worked in their favour. That changed our structure. First half, we were very good structurally, but I don't think we stayed in the same structure based on the opponents changes thereafter. The forced change of our new centre back, Nda, did not help our cause. I am not saying Tyson played badly, but I thought with both their presence things could have been different," Ncikazi said.

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The upcoming Fifa international break will certainly be an opportunity for Ncikazi and fellow co-coach Fadlu Davids to put the Buccaneers through their paces at training as Pirates' next game is only on October 15 against Congolese outfit Diables Noirs in the Caf Confederation Cup.

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The coaching pair will be working on what Pirates actually do with the ball when they are in possession and also improve their threat at set-pieces.

"Our priority that we are going to work on is dominating possession, and if we say we are a possession-based, and want to use possession in our attack, then let it be clear that we must dominate when we have the ball while we adapt to what the opposition are doing. We must impose ourselves with our possession. We must be highly effective with our transitions.

"We also need to create more opportunities, which is a downfall on our side, and be ruthless at set pieces with the aerial prowess that we do possess. We should be doing more at set-piece time, and that depends on the delivery and we will be working on it."