Bucs lose two crucial men against Zamalek after tough match
JOHANNESBURG — Orlando Pirates will be without influential midfielder Thandani Ntshumayelo for their CAF Champions league match against Zamalek at Orlando Stadium today, coach Roger de Sa said.
“He got stamped on his ankle on the weekend so won’t be playing,” the former Wits mentor said.
Ntshumayelo picked up the injury during his side’s MTN8 cup match against SuperSport United on Sunday, but it was initially thought he would recover in time for the fixture.
Striker Collins Mbesuma would also be out for the clash, the coach said, after the Zambian international sustained an ankle injury in the same match.
De Sa’s worst nightmare came to fruition on Sunday, when the match went to extra time and then penalties, leaving his troops to endure 120 minutes out on the pitch. It was hardly the light run-in to the top tier match against the Egyptian giants his side would have wanted.
The coach, however, was pleased with the way the rest of the squad had responded in training.
“We’ve rested them quite a lot and they should be ready by match day.”
The match would not be any easier than Pirates’ away game against Al Ahly, where the Soweto side were the surprising 3-0 victors.
“Zamalek are very similar to Al Ahly in that they’re a very tough team to play against,” De Sa said.
“They’re very well organised, pro- fessional, structured and a successful team in Africa.
“I think they’re probably better than Al Ahly and we’ll definitely have to be at our best once again.”
De Sa said it would be difficult to deliver such a good performance each time they played against top opposition, but his side had no option but to keep motivated.
“Playing in this type of competition you have to be up to it and enjoy it.
“That’s why we play football, to play these kind of matches. You want to play the best, and it’s great to play the best week in, week out.
“Imagine Al Ahly, Zamalek, Chiefs, Al Ahly again, Zamalek again, Chiefs again, that’s a hell of a run. It’s something that doesn’t happen too often in a sporting career.”
In stark contrast to their first champions league match against AC Leopards, which was played after the league break in July and ended goalless at Orlando Stadium, the Buccaneers would be more matchfit on this occasion.
“Almost a month ago, we were playing our first competitive game. Now, we’re a lot more run in, and a lot more hardened, so hopefully we’ll be better.”
It would also be vital for Pirates to win their home games in the competition and get as many points as possible. “We’ve got to try and get to 10 points — that’s very important.” — Sapa.
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Midfielder Thandani Ntshumayelo has been ruled out of Orlando Pirates’ crucial CAF Champions League clash against Zamalek today.