Cape Town — While most teams are battling with a heavy workload and mounting injuries, Orlando Pirates are going from strength to strength following their workmanlike 2-0 win over TS Galaxy at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
After the match, Pirates co-coach Fadlu Davids said his team was thriving despite the ever-increasing workload that posed huge demands on players, many of whom have just returned from long injury-enforced lay-offs.
"We had six games in 16 days, and before this game, it was five games in 13," said Davids. "This schedule comes with the recovery matchday, plus one and the next day is recovery minus one, and we go again."
Bandile Shandu and Collins Makgaka scored unanswered goals, but the real stars of the show were the twin centrebacks Nigerian Olisa Ndah and Ntsikelelo Nyauza, who offered stout defence in front of goal.
Ndah was generally in control when the opposition tried to make inroads into his penalty area, and Nyauza made sure Galaxy were kept at bay every time they tried to make headway down the central channels.
Davids, however, shot down veiled remarks that Ndah and Nyauza were the mainstays of the team on the day.
“It is not only Ndah and Nyauza," said Davids. "It is the complete team structure in terms of our high press. It is about how we manage to exert pressure higher up the pitch.
“We had many turnovers in the opposition half but did not capitalise on it enough. It is a work in progress.
“Galaxy are a team who are very direct. They are one of the few teams playing with two strikers.
"They also play two on the sides to ensure balls are coming into the box. It is the second balls we had to manage.
“We could not get sucked into playing their type of football. We had to slow the game down, bring calmness and I think we did that well in the first half."
Nigeria striker Kwame Peprah was given a rare run in Pirates' starting XI. He came close to scoring his first goal for the club but was denied by the woodwork. In response to questions at the post-match presser media, Davids said Peprah time will come to shine for Pirates.
“We must not forget that he is young and comes from a different league, a different environment,” said Davids. "When he joined us, it was not about only putting him in.
“It was about trying to understand how we play. He adapted well for a player coming from a different league, where it is not so quick, or so intense.
“We are happy with him and there is no pressure on him to score. He offers so much with his movements, and his link-up play is a focal point.
“The goal will come. There was a perfect moment for him today, but it hit the post. We are behind him and will support him. We sit with him after each game to work on his movement."