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Picture: 123RF / SOMKKU9KANOKWAN
Picture: 123RF / SOMKKU9KANOKWAN

Orlando Pirates’ Bandile Shandu says there is no better motivation for a player than playing in the final of a continental competition.

Pirates face their biggest challenge yet in the Caf Confederation Cup when they meet Moroccan outfit RS Berkane‚ the 2019/2020 winners of the competition‚ in Friday night’s final in Uyo‚ Nigeria.

Bucs will have to step up their game if they want to go better than their runners-up positions in the 2013 Caf Champions League and 2015 Confed.

Shandu‚ 27‚ knows about stepping up‚ having improved his game dramatically since signing for the Buccaneers from Maritzburg United in the preseason‚ becoming a key performer for Pirates.

The right back‚ who has been deployed at right midfield recently‚ believes the occasion will provide enough motivation for Pirates to step up a gear.

“The occasion itself brings everyone to step up and to bring a bit more than in the previous games. And to win you need to be on top of your game and need to be fully focused‚” Shandu said before the team’s departure for Nigeria on Wednesday.

“Playing in the final is an amazing feeling and I think that road to the final tells you how big the occasion is. It is a privilege and I am grateful to be part of this fantastic team.”

Shandu said he is comfortable playing wherever the coaches deploy him.

“I am comfortable wherever I am needed to play‚ because the team comes first. I will play any position the team requires me to the best of my ability.

“It is different when you are playing locally‚ because we know each other and play against each other every week. But in this competition some teams may analyse us‚ but we improve with each game and we work on our mistakes.”

Shandu is among three players in second place in the 2021/2022 Confed top-scorers’ list on four goals.

“The form I have displayed in the competition goes to my teammates‚” he said.

“They have welcomed me very well at the club and what I have been capable of doing is now showing. Nothing beats hard work — you can prepare as hard as you want‚ but as long as we all bring our A-game, we will do well.”

Berkane might be considered slight favourites for the final. They dismantled the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s TP Mazembe 4-2 on aggregate in arguably the tougher semifinal. Pirates beat Libya’s Al Ahli Tripoli 2-1 on aggregate.

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