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Orlando Pirates co-coaches’ ship in murky water

Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids assistant coaches of Orlando Pirates. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackapagePix

Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids assistant coaches of Orlando Pirates. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackapagePix

Published Oct 22, 2021


Johannesburg - The growing trend of having at least two coaches at the helm doesn’t seem to be for everyone. While Mamelodi Sundowns are flourishing in this regard, others like Orlando Pirates seem to have got it wrong.

Of course, it would be naïve of me to ignore the fact that Sundowns’ coaching trio of Rhulani Mokwena, Manqoba Mngqithi and Steve Komphela recently had a fallout, leading to detractors thinking that was the start of bigger issues to come.

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But to their disappointment, the “three wise men” appeared to have reached common ground once again, putting their differences aside and working as a unit. And the results have come as the Brazilians sit comfortably atop the Premiership log.

However, at a club where “we have the same philosophy” speech rolled off the tongue after Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids were announced as Pirates’ new caretaker coaches, there’s been nothing to write home about for over two months.

ALSO READ: Orlando Pirates struggling to wake up from worst nightmare

In eight matches since taking over from Josef Zinnbauer, Ncikazi and Davids have only guided Pirates to one win in the league. The team’s woes in front of goal continued in the league and on the continent lately.

On Friday, they returned home with a goalless draw from their visit to Congo Brazzaville, where they faced Diables Noirs in the second round preliminary qualifiers of the Confederation Cup, leaving them with a mountain to climb at home.

Pirates will need to win at home on Sunday to qualify for the group stage of the continental competition. That’s easier said than done, especially after they were held to a stalemate by Maritzburg United on Wednesday.

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The Team of Choice played the better part of the second half with 10 men after Brandon Theron got his marching orders. But Pirates, despite creating a host of scoring chances, still managed to fire blanks at Harry Gwala Stadium.

ALSO READ: Maritzburg United frustrate Orlando Pirates in Harry Gwala Stadium stalemate

Ncikazi and Davids had impressive spells as Maritzburg and Golden Arrows coaches in the past when they emerged as master tacticians in the making.

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But at a club like Pirates there’s no auditioning phase as results are key.

Mokwena, who was touted as the advocate of young coaches after taking over at Pirates on an interim basis, learnt that the hard way. His abrupt loaning to Chippa United cut even deeper considering his affiliation to the club.

ALSO READ: Former Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic convicted of sexual assault

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Of course, coaches run on different fortunes. That Pirates are still mum on the replacement of Zinnbauer means either Davids, Ncikazi or both still have a shot at redemption: landing the Pirates job on a permanent basis.

The duo will know that they’ll have to roll their sleeves up and crack the whip on individuals and the team. The recent off-pitch incidents by Goodman Mosele and Ben Motshwari tainted their player management attributes.

But most importantly, they'll have to deliver where it matters the most: on the pitch, starting on Sunday.