Mandla Ncikazi of Golden Arrows. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ANESH DEBIKY
Mandla Ncikazi of Golden Arrows. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/ANESH DEBIKY

Golden Arrows coach Mandla Ncikazi is expecting a backlash from a wounded Orlando Pirates when the two sides meet in a potentially delicious league encounter at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.

Pirates are still licking their wounds after a deflating 2-0 defeat to struggling Black Leopards on Sunday and Ncikazi is expecting a difficult day in the office when the Durban side arrives in Johannesburg.

“Tough match and tough opponents‚” the 51-year-old Ncikazi said ahead of their meeting with the inconsistent Pirates.

“Pirates are a good team‚ good playing team. Maybe let’s not read anything from the previous result [against Leopards]. Just remember the positives.

“The only threat with them is they can change the formation many times in one match and also the personnel.

“So I’m not sure what will happen after they lost [to Leopards] …whether they’ll change personnel‚ whether they [will] change the formation.

“But with Pirates, just expect a tough match irrespective of what happens with them.”

The two sides had contrasting fortunes at the weekend as Pirates suffered their second league defeat of the season after their mauling by Leopards in Limpopo‚ while Arrows are coming off a 1-0 win against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) in Durban.

Arrows have continued to punch well above their weight under Ncikazi‚ who replaced Steve Komphela before the start of the 2020/2021 campaign‚ and their fourth place on the standings is testament to the hard work he has invested in the Durban side.

He has done very well to keep his unheralded squad close to the top and they are one of only three teams in the league — the others are leaders Sundowns and second-placed Moroka Swallows — that remain unbeaten in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) this season.

He said on Tuesday he will focus on preparing his charges rather than obsessing too much about what Pirates may or may not do.

“Mainly‚ I will focus more on our team‚” said Ncikazi. “We’re prepared to defend well and if we defend well and come out cleanly in attack‚ we’re going to get a positive result.

“I’m confident [of a result] based on what I’ve seen thus far in our team.”

Arrows’ victory against TTM in their last outing‚ a fourth this season‚ took them to fourth place on the PSL table and they are now just seven points behind Sundowns‚ who have played one match more than the Durban side.

In players such as utility midfielder Velemseni Ndwandwe‚ who scored the winner against TTM on Saturday‚ Ncikazi has managed to unearth gems and helped them to make their mark in the PSL.

Ncikazi will again look to Ndwandwe and Arrows regular attackers Nduduzo Sibiya and Knox Mutizwa to preserve their unbeaten run against the fifth-placed Buccaneers.

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