Golden Arrows coach Ncikazi reveals concerns over Orlando Pirates match

This fixture has been a very tight one in recent years – five of the last seven encounters between the Soweto side and the Durban team have ended 0-0

An injury to captain Matome Mathiane is among the issues Golden Arrows coach Mandla Ncikazi is dealing with as he gets his side ready for their league clash with Orlando Pirates at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on Tuesday evening.

The match kicks off at 5pm and both sides come into the league encounter having won derbies on the weekend.

Pirates beat Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 in the Soweto derby to move to 25 points, eight behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns. Arrows also won a local derby, edging out Maritzburg United by the same scoreline. Abafana bes’Thende are just three points behind Bucs on the standings.

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However, the victory over the Team of Choice could have come at a cost as captain and central defender Mathiane limped off injured in the 76th minute.

“January has been challenging losing so many of our players for different reasons considering the fact that we don’t have a big squad,” Ncikazi was reported saying by the Daily Sun.

“We hardly change our team and I’m praying that the mileage that they have gathered last month doesn’t affect the team negatively against Pirates,” he added.

In fact Arrows had only seven substitutes on the bench over the weekend when teams are allowed nine players.

Another centre-back, Gladwin Shitolo, has also been sidelined with an injury and is likely to miss the match against his former club Pirates.

Some good news for the Durban side at least is that another central defender, Nkosinathi Sibisi, is available again after suspension.

Midfielder Danny Phiri is also back from injury and right-back Siyabonga Dube may also be passed fit for selection against the Sea Robbers after a recent rib injury.

Ncikazi does, however, feel that Pirates’ win over Amakhosi on the weekend will have provided them with some winning momentum.

“It is another tough match for us against a highly confident Pirates. I feel it is a bad time [to play them] on the back of their good win against Chiefs,” said Ncikazi.

The two sides did meet as recently as January 21, with their league game in Orlando ending 0-0.

“One thing I’m sure of is the players will give their best as always,” Ncikazi concluded.

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