Johannesburg – A positive attitude throughout the entire squad has lifted Orlando Pirates to the group stages of the African Champions League, according to head coach Roger de Sa, as the Buccaneers target their second title in the continental competition.
Pirates, who won the Champions League in 1995, progressed to the group stages with a 3-2 aggregate victory over TP Mazembe, despite trying circumstances in the final away leg in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo.
“It's been a massive group effort,” De Sa said.
“We've had all the injuries that everybody has spoken about and we've had a lot of players missing that we dearly miss.
“Because of that, I think the rest of them really united and pulled together. That to me has been the key factor.
“It's how the guys have fought in every stage of the competition.”
Pirates would wait to see which teams they drew, on Tuesday, before they began their planning in earnest.
“Right now we're in the group stages, let's see who we draw,” he said.
“We'll probably analyse and see what we can do in forthcoming games and weeks, and who we're up against, and also how far we have to travel.”
Pirates lost 1-0 to Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday, ending their chances of clinching a third straight Premiership crown.
After the match, the Brazilians' coach, Pitso Mosimane, gave credit to the Soweto giants for their performance in the Champions League, insisting more acclaim should be given to Premier Soccer League teams that perform well in continental competitions.
“That (away) game against Mazembe for me was big, and they went through,” Mosimane said.
“That for me is why Pirates have a star above their emblem.
“I think South Africans should look at football differently. That's important for Bafana players, for our country.”
De Sa said Pirates could bolster their squad with a few new signings as they aim to book their place in the final.
“We do have a window period to be able to sign a couple of new players and add them to our group,” he said.
“If we can do that successfully I think we have as good a chance as anybody.
“I always said if we beat TP Mazembe, I think we've a got a real opportunity to have a go (at the title).”
Playing elsewhere in Africa offered plenty of challenges, according the De Sa, which made it difficult to succeed.
“We are spoilt in South Africa. We live in a beautiful country and our lifestyles are pretty easy.
“When you go to Africa you realise how tough it is. You see how difficult it is to get good hotels, good transport, good stadiums, good fields. These are the difficulties we face all the time.” – Sapa