GOLDEN Arrows coach Mandla Ncikazi’s injury worries have deepened ahead of their DStv Premiership clash against Orlando Pirates at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium today (5pm).

Skipper Matome Mathiane picked up an injury when Abafana Bes’Thende defeated Maritzburg United 2-1 at the same venue on Saturday.

Ncikazi is concerned about Mathiane’s injury, who has formed a solid partnership at the back with Nkosinathi Sibisi this season and it is unlikely that he’ll be part of the team against the Buccaneers.

But the good news is the return from suspension of Sibisi who missed the win over Maritzburg.

Ncikazi is concerned about facing Pirates following the Soweto giants 2-1 win over Kaizer Chiefs in the Soweto derby at the weekend.

“It is another tough match for us against a highly confident Pirates. I feel it is a bad time (to play them) on the back of their good win against Chiefs,’’ said Ncikazi.

“January has been challenging losing so many of our players for different reasons considering the fact that we don’t have a big squad. We hardly change our team and I’m praying that the mileage that they have gathered last month doesn’t affect the team negatively against Pirates.”

Against Maritzburg, Arrows were also without Gladwin Shitolo due to an injury. That forced Ncikazi to partner Mathiane with Siyavuya Ndlovu, who was making his first appearance this season.

When Mathiane was taken off Thabani Zuke slotted in at the back instead of his usual midfield position.

Despite injury problems, there was good news for Arrows. Midfielder Danny Phiri finally returned from a long lay-off to play his first game this season against Maritzburg. The Zimbabwe midfielder last played against Black Leopards on 21 August.

Right back Siyabonga Dube, who is recovering from a rib injury is likely to be back against Pirates.

However, Ncikazi says the spirit in the team is good after the win over Maritzburg.

That win saw Arrows remain sixth on the table with 18 points from 14 games, three points behind fourth placed Pirates.

“One thing I’m sure of is the players will give their best as always,” said Ncikazi.