Johannesburg — Orlando Pirates’ co-coach Fadlu Davids says they are pleased with the decent start that they’ve made in the second half of the season as that will be a stepping-stone that ensures that they bag a strong finish come the end of the term.
The Bucs finished the first half of the campaign second on the log standings. But there was nothing much to read on that amid their title pursuit as they trailed log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who had played two games more, by 14 points.
But after finishing the year with two wins in as many matches in the league, Pirates took that form to the New Year. They progressed to the Nedbank Cup last 16 by beating AmaZulu – to keep their chances of winning a domestic cup alive.
They also took that form to continental football as they beat JS Saoura in their first CAF Confederation Cup group stage match last Sunday. But they’d endure their first blemish of the year after their draw with Golden Arrows in the league.
But despite that 0-0 draw on Wednesday, Davids is content with how they’ve started the year. That they’ve kept three clean sheets since the strart, scored three goals and have most of their players back from injuries is serving as a booster.
“We know our issues in the first round. This is really the first time now that we have 95% - 98% of player availability. Everyone is back and fighting. You can see the difference in training where everybody is there fighting,” the 40-year-old said.
“In the first round, we didn’t have a lot of players available. We are definitely not happy with the first round. But the team is moving in the right direction. With how we ended and started the year, we are on course to have a strong finish.”
After that draw with Arrows at home, the Buccaneers will be eager to return to winning ways when they face Libyans Al-Ittihad in their second game of the Confederation Cup group stage at Martyrs of February Stadium on Sunday evening.
The Bucs are no strangers to meeting Libyan-based sides at this stage of the competition and this venue. And that's why that will serve as a booster. Last term, they snatched four points from Al Ahly Benghazi as they progressed to the last eight.
“We’ve already had some matches downloaded and some information from the analysts. But us as coaches we go fully into the Arrows game. So we’ll do that (analysis) this evening. But our analysts have done the work,” Davids said.
“We already have some details in relation to the team. They are a better team so far if you compare them to Saoura that we faced. So, they are a tough side. What is familiar with us is that we played in the same stadium when we faced Benghazi.
“We know where we are going and the type of pitch, the artificial pitch, that we are going to face. It’s a matter of finalising the final details of the match. How we can approach the game. However, it will definitely be a tough game that’s coming up.”