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Off-Field Antics & Exhaustion, Pirates’ Tough CAF Journey…

With Orlando Pirates finalizing preparations for their CAF Confederation Cup final, co-coach Mandla Ncikazi has reflected on the club's tough journey.

The Buccaneers will face Moroccan side RS Berkane in the Confederation Cup final at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Nigeria on Friday, following their 2-1 aggregate victory over Libya’s Al Ahli Tripoli in the semi-finals.

Read: 3 Games In 8 Days, Pirates’ Amended Hectic Schedule

Having progressed past Congolese side CSMD Diables Noirs, Liberia’s LPRC Oilers and JS Saoura respectively, as well as Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad, Royal Leopards from Eswatini, Tanzania’s Simba SC and Al Ahli Tripoli on their way to the final, Ncikazi discussed the tough lessons learnt by the Soweto giants along the way. 

“One thing I’ve learnt in the CAF competition, it’s not a test inside the playing field, there’s also a test outside the field. When you get into the field already 20% of your energy is exhausted on the outside. That is why I always say it’s important to have a team with resources. If it wasn’t for our management sending an advance party in Tanzania, I don’t know what would have happened to us,” said Ncikazi, speaking to the media.

“In other countries they do the same but I’m thinking AmaZulu said they never trained not even once in a 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 into CAF, you get exhausted even before you get into the ground. We arrived two hours late in Tanzania for training because the traffic… So, you don’t know whether it’s a man-made traffic or it’s real traffic. With the escort, it’s one bike, so there’s many challenges.

Read: Pirates’ Surprise Decision On DC Matter Confirmed

“So, if you focus on everything else, and some you can’t avoid because it affects you directly, so one thing that I’ve learnt is that you must be a team that is well resourced, a team that has experienced such scenarios and I can bet you that there’s no team that can go to Africa for the first time and win. You must have had these experiences, which is why our players were very calm when all these things were happening outside the ground you could see that they were focused on the match. That’s what we tell them, within the four lines, there will be control, it will be 11 players versus 11 players, control that, we are in control in that department,” the coach said. 

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