Arrows coach Mandla Ncikazi: AmaZulu a different team under Benni McCarthy

Sazi Hadebe Sports reporter
Golden Arrows coach Mandla Ncikazi during the DStv Premiership match against Tshakhuma FC at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on January 16, 2021.
Golden Arrows coach Mandla Ncikazi during the DStv Premiership match against Tshakhuma FC at Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban on January 16, 2021.
Image: Steve Haag /BackPagePix/Gallo Images

Lamontville Golden Arrows coach Mandla Ncikazi has acknowledged that the AmaZulu team they’ll be meeting in the last-32 of the Nedbank Cup on Saturday is vastly different to the one they beat 2-0 in a DStv Premiership match before the end of last year.

Ncikazi, who has taken Arrows to sixth in the Premiership in 14 rounds in his first longer spell as a head coach of a PSL club, says new AmaZulu coach Benni McCarthy has improved Usuthu. He added that it’s no surprise that AmaZulu won their last three league matches on the trot coming to Saturday’s highly anticipated KZN derby at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium.

“The team that we’re playing on Saturday is a different team to the one we played before Benni arrived,” said the 51-year-old Ncikazi on Thursday.

“They’ve got a different energy — Benni has changed the strategy, and you can see that mentally they’re more prepared as they’ve started winning games.”

Ncikazi also highlighted the fact that cup games are more unpredictable than the league matches and teams tend to fight to the bitter end.

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“The motivation is different, so, yes, we’re going to face a different side. And a cup game in its own nature has got different dynamics.

“In a league match you’ll be still OK with a draw or 1-0 loss but in a cup match a 1-0 lead in the last 15 minutes is dangerous as some teams are prepared to throw forward even the defenders to try and get the game back because it’s a once-off.

“We’re expecting a crazy game. In a derby, in its nature, there are emotions and a lot of effort.”

The Arrows coach said his team are hoping to play Saturday’s match with their skipper Matome Mathiane back after missing Tuesday’s 2-0 win against Orlando Pirates.

“We’re hoping he’ll pass the late fitness test, same with [Gladwin] Shitolo. Siyabonga Dube won’t be in this match as he’s still getting treatment and we wish that he comes back soon but not for this one.”

Ncikazi also touched on the issue of match officials who have attracted a lot of scrutiny and bad publicity with their poor decisions in some PSL matches this season.

“I control the controllable and I leave the referees to their superiors,” said Ncikazi, “They are humans, they make mistakes.

“We have had decisions that have been to our advantage from the referees. There are decisions where we’ve been in the disadvantage ... all teams in essence in the PSL have faced the same situation.

“So I wouldn’t want to even think or go to that territory [of criticising the officials], as I can’t change anything about what’s happening with the referees.

“My position is an area of influence on what’s happening in the team.”

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