Second place still at stake for Pirates

Local

Orlando Pirates still stand a mathematical chance of qualifying for the CAF Champions League by finishing as DStv Premiership runners-up with three games in hand.

Following the disappointment of failing to win the CAF Confederation Cup on Friday, Pirates will return to domestic action tomorrow still faced with playing for another continental ticket. 

Currently, on 40 points and in seventh place, Pirates still have three games to play against Maritzburg United (May 24), Royal AM (May 27) and SuperSport United (May 30) before they complete their DStv Premiership campaign.

The destiny of their return to continental club football next season is in their hands.

All that The Bucs need to do is win their games which can possibly leave them as high as second which secures a Champions League ticket.

To secure Champions League football they need to collect all nine points and have a better goal difference than Cape Town City and Royal AM.

The two teams currently occupying the two CAF spots – Cape Town City (Champions League) and Stellenbosch (Confederation Cup) – have completed their campaigns and must now wait for the outcome of games involving Pirates and Royal AM.

Royal AM plays Sundowns today and then meets Pirates and if they get at least a point from those two games they will be guaranteed of at least third place while second place will be secured with at least three points.

"The chances based on the position that we are in in the league with three games to go are minimal but as long as there is still a mathematical chance we will keep on fighting," says Mandla Ncikazi, the Pirates interim co-coach.

At worst Pirates could find themselves out of the top eight if they lose all their games and end up with a worse goal difference than Golden Arrows should Abafana Bes’thende win their game against AmaZulu on Tuesday.

"We have to help the players. We have to tell the players that they are good enough which they are.

"It is just unfortunate that the script has now changed. We should be on the other side of the river, but we lost the match, and we know why we lost the match.

"I don’t think the challenges are big. It is a disappointment. If we play like this and take the chances this team will go places. As for the Champions League let us see what happens with the remaining three games and take it from there.

"It has not been a good season for our team and the reasons are the ones that you saw today where a match is dominated like we dominated but the outcome and the final product are not equal to the way we played.

"We have a responsibility, the players are experienced, and the coaches must do their job in motivating the players to be ready for the next challenge," says Ncikazi.

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