Shandu eyes CAF glory in stellar debut season with Pirates

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Orlando Pirates midfielder Bandile Shandu has outdone himself in the CAF Confederation Cup. Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images
Orlando Pirates midfielder Bandile Shandu has outdone himself in the CAF Confederation Cup. Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

SPORT


Bandile Shandu has enjoyed a stellar debut season with Orlando Pirates and wants to cap it off with another eye-catching performance to take Bucs to victory in the CAF Confederation Cup final against Morocco’s RS Berkane in Nigeria on Friday evening.

The 27-year-old from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal has been one of the standout performers in the Confederation Cup.

Shandu has carried Pirates on his small shoulders with four goals and an assist in 11 appearances in the competition.

He wants to use his industriousness and eye for goals to help the Soweto giants over the line against Berkane, the 2020 Confederation Cup champions, when the two sides clash at Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo tonight.

“It’s been a great experience. I’d like to thank my team-mates and the technical team. My form in this competition goes to them,” said Shandu, who joined Pirates in July.

READ: Orlando Pirates take giant step towards Confed Cup final

“They’ve welcomed me very well and I’ve managed to settle in quicker. The form I’ve been in boils down to that and the support I’ve received since I arrived.”

The two sides vary in pedigree, with Pirates having last played in the final of this competition – they lost to Tunisian side Étoile du Sahel in 2015 – while Berkane hoisted the title two years ago.

“The occasion itself just makes everyone to step up and spring a bit more than the previous game,” said Shandu.

Pirates advanced to the final with a 2-1 aggregate win. They beat Libyan side Al Ahli Tripoli 2-0 in Benghazi, but looked somewhat out of sorts as they lost 1-0 in Orlando at the weekend.

Shandu said his team must bring its A game if it is to return home with the trophy.

You need to be on top of your game. You need to be fully focused and work hard, nothing beats hard work. I think we will do very well.


“When you get to a team like Orlando Pirates, it is about winning. You must quickly adjust to that and that is the first thing I realised when I first came here – that you need to help the club win silverware. That’s what the players and the fans want. We will fulfil that and bring the trophy home.”

While Shandu has been rattling the net from right-back and midfield in the Confederation Cup, he has only scored two with an assist in 26 DStv Premiership matches.

But he has been one of the most consistent performers, having featured in 40 matches in all competitions with seven goals and two assists ahead of the Confed decider.

Shandu’s team-mate and Pirates captain Happy Jele is expected to partner with Nigerian Olisa Ndah at centre-back.

Ndah won the Nigeria Premier League with Akwa United at the same stadium before he joined Pirates at the beginning of the season.

Jele is banking on support from Ndah’s fans in Uyo to flock to the stadium to cheer for him and the Buccaneers.

READ: Bucs Confed Cup run could salvage poor PSL campaign

“I hope the Nigerian fans will support us here. It will be a great match for sure. It will be a war,” Jele said at the pre-match press conference in Uyo.

The game kicks off at 9pm.


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