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Pirates can’t afford to fire blanks again against Africa Sports, says Maela

Orlando Pirates players in training at the club’s media day at the Rand Stadium.
Orlando Pirates players in training at the club’s media day at the Rand Stadium.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu

Orlando Pirates have put sharp focus on finishing during their preparations for the Caf Champions League first-round clash against Namibian upstarts Africa Sports at the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Windhoek on Saturday.

The Buccaneers were held to a goalless draw in the first leg last weekend, squandering scoring opportunities, and defender Innocent Maela said they cannot afford to fire blanks again in Windhoek.

Any scoring draw will be enough to take the Buccaneers to their first Champions League group stages appearance in five years and the Bafana Bafana defender said they are travelling with the sole intention of winning the game.

“In the first leg we missed too many chances, which was our downfall.

“The away-goals rule favours us to an extent, but we want to win the match outright and avoid complications‚” Maela said.

“I believe that with the chances that we created in the first leg‚ we should have won the game by at least two goals.

“Our technical team did their job in preparing us for that match, but we did not do what was expected.

“I am not one to give excuses but it was not our day and hopefully our luck will change this time around because we want to progress to the next stage of the competition.”

Maela expects a tough match in Namibia because Africa Sports showed at Orlando Stadium last weekend that they like to play football and they will benefit from their home supporters.

“They are a well-coached team who have the slight advantage of playing in front of their own supporters‚” he said.

“But we are capable of going away from home and coming back with the result.

“We have a number of players who have experience of playing on the continent and the same goes [for] our coaches, who have seen it all on the continent.”

In the Confederation Cup‚ Kaizer Chiefs are away from home to Madagascan side Elgeco Plus at the Stade Municipal de Mahamasina in Antananarivo, where they are comfortably leading the tie 3-0 from the first leg.

New Kaizer Chiefs boss Ernst Middendorp says he is yet to unleash Lebogang Manyama and wants to tweak Willard Katsande to contribute to both defence and attack in a subtle reshuffling of the playing style at Chiefs.

Middendorp‚ with two wins out of two and yet to concede a goal since taking over‚ has been explaining his tactical ideas ahead of the club’s departure on Friday for Madagascar, where they play against Elgeco Plus on Saturday.

“I’ve been playing Manyama deep in the midfield‚” Middendorp explained on Thursday after two performances where the former Premier Soccer League Player of the Season was not as attacking as usual and did not link up much with the front line as is his strength.

“It gives him a little bit more of a chance to manage himself,” he said.

“Everybody knows that he arrived at the club at the start of the season and then he had the car accident and was out of training. That has meant he has not been capable of moving up and down for the full 90 minutes.

“We will shift him up front but at the moment‚ against this type of opponent‚ his positioning is‚ I think‚ quite helpful for him.

“He comes through‚ he can manage it‚ supporting players‚ running into gaps and I think he is doing very well.”

As for Katsande‚ Middendorp says he is trying to change the playing style of the 32-yearold defensive midfielder.

“We’ve had some sessions and shown him some videos of what we expect from a player in his position.

“There is the defensive part‚ of course‚ and he is strong in this area.

“But on the other hand you have to contribute in terms of really being a ball receiver and‚ at the same time‚ distributing it in a proper yet simple and easy way.

“The simplicity is the quality. From what I’ve seen so far‚ it’s all good‚” the new coach who took over from Italian Giovanni Solinas said.