Orlando Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi has explained why they expect their preparation for Saturday’s Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs to have fewer obstacles than usual.
Ncikazi says it is not going to be complicated for them against Amakhosi after they did not need to fly out of the country for last weekend’s Caf Confederation Cup assignment against Royal Leopards.
Leopards were the home side but opted to stage the match at Mbombela Stadium since their home ground, Simunye Park, does not meet Caf standards.
Now, after being saved from the hassles of travelling, Pirates host Kaizer Chiefs in a Premier Soccer League encounter although they first welcome Cape Town City at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday, fresh from the big 6-2 victory over the Swazi side.
Pirates will be facing a Chiefs side which beat them 2-1 in the reverse fixture in November 2021.
But now with some of their players starting to pick up form, the Pirates coach s confident of getting one over their Soweto rivals.
“We can’t lie, it helped us that the team from Eswatini qualified [for the group stage] because you can imagine if we had a team from Algeria,” Ncikazi told the media.
“In this competition, it is not always just a test of football, it is also a test of other factors. The hostility you face there, the travel arrangements, the waiting at the airports, it is a challenge you don’t need, especially with a fixture list like ours.
“Lessening the travel does assist our team and it is going to be easy next week against Kaizer Chiefs.”
Ncikazi, meanwhile, singled out right-back Bandile Shandu for praise as the former Maritzburg United star has scored three goals in their last two games.
“Shandu has been doing well. For a player that is playing in a position that he plays in to have scored so many goals, he’s in a good space,” added Ncikazi.
“I just hope he continues doing that. But it’s important now that we’re going into the next matches, when do you rotate and when do you still continue playing him, and we have to manage that. But Shandu has been doing really well and we are proud of him.”
With Pirates two points clear at the top of Group B in the Confederation Cup, Ncikazi also has praise for Mamelodi Sundowns and AmaZulu, who are also doing well in the Caf Champions League and wants the two to meet in the final.
“If that is the direction we are taking, even in the national team, it is positive for the country,” continued Ncikazi.
“I hope all the teams that are still part of the competition can go as far as they can. It will be nice to see a [Champions League] final between Sundowns and AmaZulu, Why not?
"And then Pirates go and win the other trophy.”