Tshegofatso Mabasa of Orlando Pirates, September 2021Backpagepix

'Unlucky' Orlando Pirates sweat over Mabasa and Sandilands' fitness

Orlando Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi says they are "unlucky with injuries" and is “praying” forward Tshegofatso Mabasa did not emerge from Sunday’s 1-0 win over Diables Noirs with a knock.

Mabasa came on as a second half substitute to play the last 35 minutes but Ncikazi is worried the striker could have picked up an injury in this home Caf Confederation Cup clash.

The latest concern came a day after goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands was declared unfit for the match, leaving Diski Challenge and inexperienced gloveman Thuntsane Kopano deputising Siyabonga Mpontshane.

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Sandilands’ injury further handicaps Pirates in goal with Richard Ofori and Elson Sithole already injured. 

“I’m just praying that there is no other injury, Mabasa, we’ll wait for our medical team to inform us. We can’t afford to have another injury,” said Ncikazi as per iDiski Times.

“We’re one team that is so unlucky with injuries. Wayne Sandilands had the same problem yesterday [Saturday] but back to the match, we’re just happy that we went to the next round. 

“This is African football and today we saw what happened, if you don’t score, you’ll have problems. I’m just happy that the team could go into the next phase?”

If Mabasa is declared unavailable for the next match, that would leave Pirates with another crisis upfront.

Frank Mhango has not featured in the Buccaneers’ last seven games while Ghanian striker Kwame Paprah was also unavailable against Diables Noirs.

The two joined another forward, Zakhele Lepasa, who has not played a match this year after undergoing surgery twice.

Attacking midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch and defender Innocent Maela are already out injured. 

But while Ncikazi was expressing worry over Mabasa and Sandilands, the coach had something to cheer about concerning attacking midfielder Goodman Mosele. 

Prior to hosting Diables Noirs, Mosele had missed the team's two previous matches but returned to play 90 minutes.

“I was surprised that he lasted for the duration of the match. We were skeptical because it was his first match after the period he was not with the team,” Ncikazi added.

“Goodman, he sustained himself, he did well and contributed in the setup. I’m just happy that he’s back. There is more from him but in the match we’ve had a lot of defending towards the end.  But he did his job and he did very well, we’re proud of him.”

Sunday’s match was the first round, second leg of the Confederation Cup which saw Pirates advance to the competition’s play-offs stage withj a 1-0 aggregate scoreline after the away leg ended goalless.