Johannesburg – Roger de Sa said he is “living a dream” after Orlando Pirates made a mockery of another Egyptian giant here on Saturday to edge closer to a Caf Champions League semi-final spot.
A couple of weeks after registering a historic 3-0 victory over Al Ahly in Egypt, Pirates welcomed five-time African champions Zamalek to Orlando and their fairy tale campaign continued as they easily swept aside the Egyptians 4-1 to move three points clear at the top of Group A ahead of their MTN8 semi-final clash with Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs this weekend.
“Living a dream,” was the coach’s response to how he’d describe the last couple of weeks that have seen the Buccaneers wallop arguably the finest clubs in the history of the competition.
“Sometimes you never get another chance to play in the Champions League and to play against teams like Zamalek and Al Ahly is a great honour. For me, it’s fantastic. That’s why we play football and coach at this level. We want to play against the best teams, and you have to enjoy these moments,” said De Sa, who watched as Lennox Bacela, Tlou Segolela, Sifiso Myeni and Daine Klate banged in goals that sealed a convincing win.
Yet to lose in the group stages, Pirates moved to seven points after three matches, enhancing their chances of progressing to the semi-finals for the first time since 2006, when Serbian Kosta Papic was at the helm.
However, De Sa warned his players not to get caught up in the fairy tale which has given South Africans hope of success on the continent.
“Yes, we may have beaten Zamalek and Al Ahly, but we have not won anything yet. We still might not qualify for the next round.
“We still have a long way to go. It’s important that we know that. We have to forget the past and worry about the next match.”
De Sa heaped praise on young midfielder Lehlohonolo Masalesa, who came on for Andile Jali just 20 minutes into the game.
A driving force in the Pirates midfield, Jali was stretchered off with an injury, but he was hardly missed as Masalesa protected the back four with consummate ease. De Sa was also impressed with Bacela, who scored and then created Tlou Segolela’s wonder strike.
“With Andile’s injury, it was a chance for Vieira (Masalesa) to come in and do the job. And he was outstanding. To come from the bench and control the game the way he did, he looked like he’s been playing in Africa for the last 10 years.
“Lennox today was good. He knew that Collins (Mbesuma) is not there, so he had a massive job to do. He could have done better, but overall we are happy with him and the work rate he puts in.”
Pirates have one home game remaining in the competition, against Al Ahly, but will first travel to Egypt for the second time in a month, to face Zamalek again on September 1. They also have an away match against AC Leopards remaining.
“Going away for two games now, it’ss important we keep playing this way and not change too much. We will continue to build on this result,” De Sa said.
Zamalek have collected just one point in their three matches, but they have refused to give up on qualifying for the semi-finals, assistant coach Osama Nabeh insisted.
“I would like to congratulate Orlando Pirates for the win. We will try to do our best when we play at home. We have three more matches and we will try our best to win all these games,” he stressed.