SA rallies behind Pirates

SA rallies behind Pirates

ORLANDO  Pirates will have the entire nation’s backing  when they do battle with Etoile du Sahel in the CAF Confederation Cup second leg final clash on Sunday afternoon in Tunisia.

The match will kick off at 4pm SA time will take place at the Olympic Stadium in Sousse.

Last week’s first leg affair in Soweto resulted in a 1-1 draw, Thamsanqa Gabuza’s sensational early strike being cancelled out by Ammar Jemal’s 87th minute equaliser.

A 0-0 draw will see the Tunisians lifting the trophy while a 1-1 draw will mean the game will go to extra time. A 1-0 win, however, or any victory for Pirates will enable them to lift the trophy.

The Bucchaneers will be hoping to repreat what they did in 1995

When Orlando Pirates won the CAF Champions League that year (the only time a South African club has won the competition), they also had to come back from conceding at home in the first leg, which ended in a 2-2 home draw against powerhouses ASEC Mimosa.

The Buccaneers went on to shock the Ivory Coast club with a 1-0 win in their back-yard, thanks in no small part to the heroics of goal-scorer Jerry Sikhosana.

While it is never easy for visiting teams in north Africa, be it the partisan home support, or the lasers which are shone in players’ eyes, there will be far more serious concerns hanging in the air when the two sides meet on Sunday.

Recent terrorist attacks in the capital city, Tunis, has made for a tense atmosphere across the region.

Looking at the two sides, Pirates will have to made do without midfielder Thandani Ntshumayelo who is suspended.

For the home side, left-back Marouane Tej is back from suspension although defender Ghazi Abderrazak is serving a suspension.

The hosts will be hoping that Nidhal Saied will make a return from long-term injury layoff.

Meanwhile Pirates coach Eric Tinkler insisted that his men have what it takes to win on the road.

“In every trip we have made we managed to score so we’re going to go there and look for the goal,” said Tinkler.

“Can we do it? Yes we can, because we have the quality to do that. We have the belief, we have the faith, we know that we can score away from home.

“We have been in Tunisia, we played against CS Sfaxien, they are a good team as well, and we came back with a positive result.”

In an interview with Lesedi FM, Thandani Ntshumayelo said that Pirates tend to be a more galvanised outfit when they play at an unknown venue.

“We play well away from home in Africa because when we leave, we leave as 25 South Africans going into the unknown. It keeps us close,” he said.

Etoile du Sahel captain Ammar Jemal, who scored late equaliser in last week’s match at the Orlando Stadium hoped to add another for his team when they host the South Africans on Sunday.

“I think it’s the best goal in my life,” Jemal said.

“It’s in the final, and it was very important, but we still have another game in Sousse. 1-1 is okay, but the final is not only played here in Johannesburg, we still have the game in Sousse and I think I will score another goal.” – ANA