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Ncikazi shares key takeaways from Pirates’ Spain dance

Orlando Pirates assistant coach Mandla Ncikazi has shared his key takeaways from the club’s ongoing pre-season tour in Spain.

Ncikazi has said that pre-season preparations have gone smoothly and that the new players have responded well to coach Jose Riveiro’s philosophy.

And to back up Ncikazi’s statement, new signing Patrick Maswanganyi was on target again as Orlando Pirates recorded their second pre-season friendly win in a row on Saturday in Marbella, a city in southern Spain’s Costa del Sol.

Maswanganyi, scored the only goal of the match as Pirates beat Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv in the opening game of the tour on Thursday. The ex-SuperSport United attacker was on the scoresheet in Bucs’ impressive 3-1 victory over Ecuador’s Independiente Del Valle on Saturday.

With back-to-back wins, it is safe to state that the Soweto giants have laid down the marker for things to come in the 2023/24 season. They are set to compete in five competitions, including the CAF Champions League, DStv Premiership and Carling Cup.

In the past campaign, Pirates clinched a cup double; the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup title. And not so long ago, Riveiro made his intentions clear about challenging Mamelodi Sundowns for the DStv Premiership.

Orlando Pirates in Spain during a practise session
Orlando Pirates

What has impressed Mandla Ncikazi in Spain

“It is good preparation and good application from our players,” said Ncikazi. “It is good to see the integration between old players and new players. And it looks positive, but it is only preparation.

“Is good that we are getting different opponents from different continents. It is a good test for the competitions we are going to face at home. It looks good for now, and let’s continue in the same vein.

“We are looking positive, and we want to return home and do what is required. I’m happy with the way the team has applied themselves [in Spain so far]. I hope the next match we will see the same positivity, application, and unity among the team,” added Ncikazi.

The Soweto giants will end their tour with an encounter against La Liga side UD Las Palmas on Wednesday, July 19.

These friendly games afford Pirates’ technical team the opportunity to see the club’s new faces and put some tactical ideas into practice. That’s according to another assistant coach at Pirates, Sergio Almenara.

“We are trying to deliver minutes to our players in pre-season,” he said. “The games are also part of training. So for us, it is training.

“We are trying to balance between minutes and possibilities inside our squad. And from there we try to get the best out of the game to improve through the process.”

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