Mandla Ncikazi, Orlando Pirates, March 2022Backpagepix

Caf Confederation Cup: Orlando Pirates coach Ncikazi outlines plans for Al-Ittihad

Orlando Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi has promised to field a strong team in their final Caf Confederation Cup Group B game against Al-Ittihad.

The Buccaneers beat JS Saoura 2-0 away in Algiers on Sunday to secure a quarter-final spot.

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They can now afford to lose their final group game against the Libyan visitors on April 3 but Ncikazi says they are gunning for maximum points and they will select the best team.

“I think they’re [Saoura] a very strong team and I think they’ll qualify because when we go back to South Africa, we’ll play Al-Ittihad with our best team, try to play a professional game,” said Ncikazi as per iDiski Times.

“We’re playing at home, we have to win the match. I’m happy that our team played and qualified. We’re not going to change anything, we going to play to win and get 15 points if it’s possible.

“We’re a professional side, we’re going to play Ittihad and play to win. We’re going to field our strong team, strong side so that we win the match.

“To us, all matches are played to win, that’s the team, that’s a professional side. It’s not going to be an easy match but we’re going to play our best team and we’re going to play to win.”

The reverse fixture between Pirates and Al-Ittihad ended 3-2 in favour of the Libyans in February.

After that result, Al-Ittihad remains the only team that has beaten Pirates in this group.

The Soweto giants’ victory over Saoura with 10 men following a red card to Goodman Mosele appears to have given them confidence.

“A very difficult team, Saoura is a very good team. I thought we played well, asserted ourselves well,” Ncikazi said.

“Maybe Saoura were unlucky that they’ve got players suspended, the captain, number 25, was suspended, Amran was suspended, the two centre-backs.

“And I thought it worked in our favour. But they were still a good team. [Aimen] Lahmri on the left, number 11, good player. [Belaid] Hamidi, good player. [Ismail] Saadi on top, good player.”

The Al-Ittihad game comes after the Fifa international break with Mosele, Thabang Monare and Bandile Shandu set to do duty with Bafana Bafana.

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