Johannesburg – Roger de Sa finally found a way to beat Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs, and it’s all thanks to victories over Egyptian giants Al Ahly and Zamalek in the CAF Champions League recently.
Away from home in the MTN8 first leg semi-final on Saturday, Pirates fought doggedly for a 1-0 victory that puts them in a very good position going into the second leg clash on September 24 in Orlando.
De Sa said he told his players Kaizer Chiefs were just another Egyptian side, and it worked.
“You ask what was my last instruction to the players ... well, I told them we were playing against just another Egyptian side. I said don’t worry these guys have just landed from Egypt, let’s go out there and enjoy ourselves.
“That was my last instruction,” De Sa chuckled as he celebrated his first victory over Amakhosi since joining the Buccaneers early in the campaign last season.
The former Bidvest Wits coach, who masterminded victories over Al Ahly, Zamalek and now Chiefs all in just a month, was pleased with the high-tempo start from his players against Amakhosi, which led to an early goal from the boot of Daine Klate, a sweetly struck free-kick that outstretched Itumeleng Khune could do very little about.
But De Sa was not too happy that they did not continue that momentum as the game progressed.
“Obviously it’s half-time now, 1-0, that’s basically what it is. Going into the second leg at home, with a slight cushion, which is really not massive. But we’d rather be one up than one down. We were pretty good in the first half, we dominated.
“I thought once we scored the goal, we took our feet off the pedal a bit, which is almost natural, where players sort of sit back a bit more. In the second half we were not the same as we have been in our last three or four matches.
“We stopped playing because they did not allow us to play. They got numbers behind the ball and they pressed us and we could not get out. We battled a bit with that. Credit to them, they came at us.
“They hit the post, and sometimes it goes that way.
“It’s over now and I’ve got to worry about our next game, which is Zamalek.”
De Sa included Siyabonga Sangweni, who has been out with a knee since February, in his side on Saturday, but says it would have been unfair to throw the former Golden Arrows defender into the game.
“Sangweni was fit to play, but I feel it would have been unfair on him, after six months out, to throw him in but he is back. We did it the last time, when we drew 1-1 (with Chiefs) and it was unfair because once he came back he didn’t play again for six months.
“We have to be patient. I went with the tried and tested, but Sangweni is ready to play.”
Pirates, who gave Thamsanqa Gabuza his debut on Saturday, leave for Egypt tomorrow to start preparing for their Champions League game against Zamalek on Sunday.
De Sa confirmed that midfielder Andile Jali, who was out injured and replaced by Man of the Match Lehlohonolo Masalesa in the derby, will be part of the team travelling to north Africa.
But midfielder Thandani Ntshumayelo is still out with a broken bone in his foot.
“Jali will start training today or tomorrow. He is in the travelling party to Egypt. So we are hoping he is fit to play in Egypt.”
De Sa will have to make the tough decision of keeping Masalesa in the starting line-up, or putting him back on the bench with Jali in contention for a place in the team.