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Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa hopes Lucky Lekgwathi and Co are mentally prepared for the hard road that lies ahead in the Caf Champions League after his players got a sneak preview into how cruel life can be in the competition on Saturday.
Some dubious decisions were made by referee Kanoso Abdoul Ohabe during the Buccaneers’ 5-0 crushing of Djabal in the Champions League preliminary round and De Sa is almost certain it could get worse – especially away from home – should the PSL champions go far in the competition.
“At least today (Saturday) we had a taste of how things can be, because I was telling our players about it. A lot of our players have never played in Africa, only a handful have played in this competition. I told them what to expect and at least they now have first hand experience. And that’s at home. It’s going to get worse.
“We have to learn to be mentally strong and accept those things and get on with the game. I know that’s a tough thing to do, but I hope we can build on this one as we know what to expect,” De Sa said.
The Buccaneers played against a group of amateurs who are volunteer footballers, but De Sa says that should by not take the shine off Pirates’ impressive victory and striker Takesure Chinyama’s quadruple on the night.
“You know if we had scored 10, you would say they’re amateurs. But if we had scored one, you would say how bad we were. So it should not take the shine away. At least we might be one step closer going further than the last two times we played in this competition.”
The scoreline suggests Pirates had it all their way in the clash, but before it started raining goals, the Buccaneers were left frustrated by a stubborn Djabal side who were playing the off-side trap very well until Sifiso Myeni opened the scoring before the half-hour mark.
“We did not really know too much about them. So we did not know how they would play. It was frustrating at times. Obviously the off-side trap and the way they set up was all new to us. But I think we got better. We fixed a few things at half-time and we were a little bit more clinical in the second half.
“Overall, though, I don’t think our finishing was great. We could have done a lot better. But irrespective of that, I think they gave us a good fight. They kept working hard and you have to respect that. From the small island of Comoros, and a team of semi-professionals, it was very very good. And it gave some of us a good wake-up call. Obviously we wanted more, but it’s okay. I just hope it’s enough.”
The two-legged tie is as good as done, but Djabal coach Hassan Ibrahim says they will still give the Buccaneers a run for their money.
The club will draw inspiration from Cape Verde’s remarkable campaign in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) this year, according to the coach.
“In Comoros we don’t pay players. The players volunteer, so I told the players to just go out and enjoy themselves.
“Two of my most experienced players did not play today (Saturday) and they will be back for the second leg. Remember we play for pleasure and we can bring an element of surprise. Who knew Cape Verde could have held South Africa to a goalless draw during the Afcon.
“For us to travel here, we have to put money together. I have played in the Champions League and you always have to respect your opponents. We will fight.”
De Sa rested the likes of Siyabonga Sangweni, Happy Jele and Collins Mbesuma on Saturday with one eye on the PSL. The Buccaneers play championship dark horses Platinum Stars on Wednesday in Orlando.
“We do have an eye on the PSL, of course,” the coach said. – Star Africa