Referring to the challenges teams encounter during Confederation of African Football (CAF) competition, Orlando Pirates coach Mandla Ncikazi said it takes experience in the CAF interclub competitions to reach a point where the title is in sight.
While it was his maiden season with the Buccaneers, he found a team that has been there before and able to navigate the challenges that even top sides with plenty resources have to grapple with in the Confederation Cup.
Pirates will face RS Berkane of Morocco in the final of the competition on Friday, and Ncikazi has relived the tough road to this important fixture in their season.
“One thing I have learned in the CAF competition-it’s not a test inside the field, there is also a test outside the field. When you get into the field 20% of your energy already is exhausted on the outside, that is why I always say it is important to have a team with resources. If it wasn’t for our management sending a advance party in Tanzania I don’t know what would have happened to us” said Ncikazi
The former Golden Arrows mentor also touched on the dirty tricks played by the opposition to put them off long before match day.
“In other countries they do the same but I’m thinking Amazulu they said they never trained not even once in the stadium that they were playing in. It’s CAF rules that you must train in the stadium, but based on the challenges that you face when you go in to CAF, so one, you get exhausted just before you get into the ground.
“We arrived two hours late in Tanzania for training because of the traffic, so you don’t know whether it’s a man-made traffic or real traffic, the escort is one bike, there are many challenges and some you can’t avoid because they affect you directly” Ncikazi explained.
Ncikazi said it is highly unlikely that a team making their debut in any of the CAF tournaments would be able to go all the way, such is tough road to title.
In his reflection of Pirates’ form in the Premier Soccer League, the 53-year old Bucs mentor admits that the technical team has not delivered on mandates set by management regarding their log position in the DStv Premiership. The Buccaneers are in seventh place, albeit with three matches in hand.
“Winning the Cup will be important, Pirates is about Cups.
“Supporters of Pirates they know how to win, they’ve tasted Cups before they know the brand of the football, so its important to win for me, win for them.
“The pressure!, pressure is the name of the game, I think the team that is at the bottom of the log the coaches are under pressure and the team on top they are under pressure it’s the name of the game.
“Maybe it’s looking at the bigger picture and the mandates that we are given beginning of the season, are you meeting them? if you not meeting them then you not at the place where you should be.
“I know what was given when we arrived here and we have not met that in terms of the League, in terms of CAF we are still on course, preferable lets winning it God being good” Ncikazi concluded.
By Mazola Molefe