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Ncikazi: Pirates ‘need to improve’ for Confed final against Berkane

16 May 2022 - 16:11 By Marc Strydom
Orlando Pirates players celebrate after the Caf Confederation Cup semifinal second leg match against Al Ahli Tripoli at Orlando Stadium on the May 15 2022.
Orlando Pirates players celebrate after the Caf Confederation Cup semifinal second leg match against Al Ahli Tripoli at Orlando Stadium on the May 15 2022.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates were affected psychologically by taking a 2-0 scoreline into their home leg and have many aspects that need improving for the Caf Confederation Cup final, coach Mandla Ncikazi said after negotiating past Al Ahli Tripoli in the semifinals.

Ncikazi said the bigger objective was achieved even though Ahli surprised Bucs 1-0 at Orlando Stadium on Sunday night for the SA club to progress 2-1 on aggregate to Friday night’s final in Uyo, Nigeria, against RS Berkane of Morocco.

“Let’s thank the players for taking the team into the final and thank our supporters for coming — the weather was not the best, but I still saw their presence and one must be grateful,” Ncikazi said after about 7,000 vocal Bucs fans braved one of the gloomiest and dampest nights of the highveld autumn to attend the game.

“It was a tough match. In the bigger picture we reached the final. Could we have done it in a better or cleaner way? Yes.

 “But, subconsciously, you could see the scoreline we had and the dynamics that were behind this match affected our team.

“But we controlled the game well, especially in the second half. I thought we went into the change rooms and highlighted a few things.

“You could see this team [Ahli] were playing without fear — they were throwing everything at us.

“I’m proud we achieved the bigger goal. At the beginning of the competition, if you had said Pirates would be in the final, one would be grateful.

“Let’s take the bigger picture and try to work on the small elements one picked up preparing for Nigeria, which is going to be very tough.”

Ahli, with their backs to the wall, were a far better combination on a wet, slippery surface in Johannesburg than in their timid display in Benghazi a week ago.

Bucs, fired-up and clinical in Libya, will have to improve on their display in Johannesburg in the final against Berkane. The bookies are likely to consider the Moroccan outfit favourites, given how they dismantled the Democratic Republic of Congo’s TP Mazembe 4-2 on aggregate in the tougher semifinal.

“We did not play well, we did not follow some of our tactical agreements,” Ncikazi admitted.

“Perhaps it was the pitch, but you don’t use that as an excuse. One has to improve.

“We have to improve scoring. I know in the final you will create a chance — the difference will be us scoring or not scoring.

“If we can polish our finishing and the decision-making in the final third, I’m sure there’s a better possibility of us winning.”

Berkane were the 2019-2020 Confed Cup winners and runners-up in 2018-2019. Pirates were the 1995 Champions Cup winners and runners-up in the Champions League in 2013 and Confed in 2015.

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