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Orlando Pirates coach Ncikazi: If you can't play pretty, grind for the result

20:56 GMT 06/04/2022
Mandla Ncikazi, Orlando Pirates, November 2021
Fortune Makaringe netted the only goal of the match at Ellis Park after combining with fellow substitutes Thembinkosi Lorch and Tshegofatso Mabasa

Orlando Pirates coach Mandla Ncikazi was pleased with his side’s ability to grind out a win against a resolute Sekhukhune United team.

Before Makaringe’s clinical 82nd minute strike, the Buccaneers had struggled to open up the opposition defence and had not looked very likely to score.

Ncikazi admitted it was a difficult game and that his side had struggled to break down the Sekhukhune defence, until the introduction of Lorch, Makaringe and Mabasa, midway through the second half.

"Very tough. Even how [Sekhukhune] shape up - playing against a block is not an easy match - you are not going to create a lot of opportunities,” Ncikazi said during his interview with SuperSport TV.

"I said to the team we are going to either win from a set play, or from their own mistake. We got a set-piece, penalty, we don't score (Deon Hotto’s first-half spot-kick was saved by Sekhukhune keeper Ayanda Dlamini).

"But we became brave enough when we brought on Fortune, brought on Lorch. The problem is that when they’re playing in a five defence line, the spaces out wide are closed. And then you have to try and play in front,” Ncikazi continued.

"At least the keeper made a mistake, but we were the team who deserved to win in terms of the creating of chances, taking charge.”

The result took Bucs to 38 points and left them in fifth position, five points behind second-placed Royal AM and 16 behind log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.

"I'm happy for the team, we battled,” Ncikazi added.

“It's that stage of the season when some wins are not going to be pretty. If you can't play pretty, then grind for the result.

"I'm just happy that the players played, [those who] we brought on.

"I'm happy for Fortune to score - that's his job. I'm just happy for the team and happy for everybody that is involved in the team. We're still there, the journey continues."

Sekhukhune coach MacDonald Makhubedu meanwhile felt that the better side had lost:

"We were on top for 75 minutes, but they came back strong," he said.