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Sea Robbers need to step it up

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Mandla Ncikazi, co-coach of Orlando Pirates. Picture: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates’ form this season has suggested there is a gulf in class between them and reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

NORMALLY humble Orlando Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi made a bold claim recently by saying that his side is on par with runaway Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns and that they have more supporters than the title favourites.

“We are on the level of Sundowns, but we even have more support than Sundowns. Pirates is a big team in South Africa; you are expected to win every match, every weekend,” said Ncikazi.

But Pirates’ form this season has suggested there is a gulf in class between them and Masandawana.

The Sea Robbers enter their game against TS Galaxy tomorrow on the back of successive draws, against AmaZulu FC and Baroka FC. They have also won just four games this season compared to Sundowns’ 10, even though they have played the same number of games (14).

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Things may not be going Pirates’ way so far but they have time to turn things around. Given the erratic nature of the season, most teams, excluding Downs, are out of form, which is why newly-promoted Sekhukhune United currently find themselves in second place.

Pirates are seventh but just three points adrift of Sekhukhune. It will be difficult for them to win the league this season but they can still target second place, which will qualify them to play in the CAF Champions League next season.

If Ncikazi wants to prove that he was not just exaggerating by claiming his side are on par with Sundowns, Pirates need to finally deliver and record wins in their upcoming fixtures.

Of the five remaining games Ncikazi’s side have this year, only one is against a team in the top three (Sundowns), while three are against league strugglers Galaxy, Swallows FC and Marumo Gallants before they close out the year by playing against inconsistent AmaZulu at home.

If Pirates are unable to finish off their league games against the strugglers, it will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Ncikazi exaggerated by claiming that his side are on par with Sundowns.

One of the Sea Robbers’ major weaknesses over the past several months has been a lack of firepower up front. They will be boosted by the return of attacker Thembinkosi Lorch, who made his return to action during a 1-1 draw with AmaZulu this week. The former PSL Player of the Year will be expected to hit the ground running.

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