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Orlando Pirates need to win games if they really are on Sundowns’ level as Mandla Ncikazi claims

FILE - Orlando Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi sits on the bench during their DStv Premiership game against AmaZulu at Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Wednesday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

FILE - Orlando Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi sits on the bench during their DStv Premiership game against AmaZulu at Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Wednesday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Dec 9, 2021

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The normally very humble Orlando Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi made a bold claim recently by saying that his side is on par with runaway league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns while adding that his side have more supporters than the league title favourites.

"We are on the level of Sundowns, but we even have more support than Sundowns. Pirates is a big team in South Africa; you are expected to win every match, every weekend” said Ncikazi.

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If anything, Pirates’ form this season has suggested that there is a gulf in class between them and Masandawana. The Sea Robbers enter their game against TS Galaxy on Saturday on the back of two successive draws (against AmaZulu and Baroka FC). They have also won just four games this season compared to Sundowns’ 10 even though they have played the same amount of games as their Gauteng rivals (14).

Things may not be going Pirates’ way this season so far but they have time to turn things around. Given the erratic nature of this season, most teams excluding Sundowns are out of form. This is the reason why newly promoted Sekhukhune United currently finds itself in second place.

Pirates may be seventh but they are just three points adrift of second-place Sekhukhune. They may be 14 points adrift of Sundowns. It will be difficult for them to win the league this season but they can still target second place which will qualify them to play in the CAF Champions League next season.

If Ncikazi wants to prove to the public that he was not just exaggerating by claiming that his side are on par with Sundowns, Pirates need to finally deliver and record wins in their upcoming fixtures.

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Out of the five remaining fixtures that Ncikazi’s side have this year, only one is against a side in the top three (Sundowns). Four out of their five remaining fixtures this year are against league strugglers (TS Galaxy, Swallows and Gallants) before they close out the year by playing against inconsistent AmaZulu at home.

If Pirates are unable to finish off their league games against the league strugglers, it will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Ncikazi exaggerated by claiming that his side are on par with Sundowns as far as quality goes.

One of the Sea Robbers major weaknesses over the past several months has been a lack of firepower up-front. They will be boosted by the return of Thembinkosi Lorch. The attacker made his return to action during the 1-1 draw with AmaZulu this week. The former PSL Player of the Year will be expected to hit the ground running quickly.

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@eshlinv

IOL Sport

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