Orlando Pirates will relish taking on African giants Al Ahly at Orlando Stadium on Sunday, coach Roger de Sa has said.
“This is why we play football, why we compete, we want to have these moments,” De Sa said today, ahead of his side’s final group A match against the Egyptians.
It is now one game away from a semifinals berth in the CAF Champions league,
“Six months ago nobody thought we’d be this close to the semifinals and now we just have to grab this opportunity.”
Pirates could move to top spot of the group if they beat Al Ahly, provided AC Leopards do not triumph over Zamalek in their match. Pirates and Leopards are equal on seven points.
Pirates produced the shock result of the competition when they beat Al Ahly, the defending champions, 3-0 in Cairo last month.
De Sa said his opposition would have a better idea of the way Pirates played this time around, and the match could be a much tighter affair.
“The first game where we beat them 3-0, I think they were quite surprised,” he said.
“They (Al Ahly) know what to expect. They’ll come out here and play, they’ve got some quality players, but so do we.”
The Pirates coach said progressing to the semifinals was not just about his team, but also about playing for national pride.
“When we were in the Congo and the Springboks had lost and we lost too we felt bad as a country, but it’s about all the players that have contributed that have helped us get good results,” he said.
“We’ve been in some very unfriendly places in Africa and we’ve done well.”
Pirates would likely field a very different line-up to the one that struggled to overcome a Polokwane City side 1-0 at Orlando Stadium earlier this week.
Regular captain Lucky Lekgwathi, Daine Klate, and Lennox Bacela would in all likelihood make a return to the starting XI.
“We also have to be careful how we rotate and keep other guys motivated,” De Sa said.
“It is a tough schedule, it’s difficult, but when you know that, you can plan for that, and the key will be player management. We just have to keep the players at their best.”
De Sa said it would be a mammoth achievement if his charges could go all the way and lift the title.
“If you do win the Champions league, you get to play in the World Club Champs. Can you imagine Pirates playing Bayern Munich? That would be fantastic.”
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