Tunisia – Not toomany footballers can boast having won just about every medal in the domestic league, but Daine Klate is one of the few who can.
His haul of five successive championship winner’s medals is already unprecedented and, after signing for Orlando Pirates three seasons ago, he was part of the double treble-winning side that helped enhance his CV.
But Klate wants one more club medal: the African Champions League. Having reached the semi-finals of the continental club championship for the first time with Pirates, Klate feels the Buccaneers are close enough – and that there’s no turning back.
Pirates face the moment of truth on Saturday, when they take on Tunisian giants Esperance at the Stade Olympique Rades (8pm SA time) needing a score draw to progress to the final.
“It’s true that I’ve won every domestic medal,” Klate said. “But it has never been about me. We should win the Champions League as a team. I’d love to be remembered as part of the squad that won it.”
Klate is convinced Pirates are in with a great chance, even as previous history of South African clubs’ results against Tunisian sides, and Esperance’s recent record – are against them.
“We went to Lubumbashi to play against TP Mazembe, and nobody thought we would come out alive. Then we were drawn in a very difficult group against two of the best in the continent, Zamalek and Al-Ahly, and we beat both. (Saturday’s) match is the same.
“Few people believe we’ll make it, but looking back at the challenges we had throughout this tournament, we stand a great chance. The experience we have has sparked a winning mentality in us.”
Klate acknowledged, however, that Pirates faded a bit in their last few games, winless in the Champions League for four games running after drawing with Ahly and Esperance, and losing to Zamalek and AC Leopards.
“I know we didn’t get the results we wanted in those games, but here we are, one match away from the final. We have to block out everything, the negative, and concentrate on this one match for 90 minutes. If we could beat Ahly 3-0 away, we surely can win against Esperance,” the former SuperSport United player said.
Pirates are already guaranteed almost R8-million for reaching the last four, but Klate insisted monetary rewards were not their motivation – they stand to bank US$1,5-million if they win the Champions League. “To us, it has never been about incentives. It’s about getting that trophy. If we prioritised incentives, we would not have won the treble back to back.
“We know that once you bring the trophy back to the chairman (Pirates owner Irvin Khoza), you will get rewarded. But we are not thinking about that at the moment. Incentives won’t last forever, but if you’re recorded as winners of this tournament, you’ll be remembered long after you have retired.”
Klate, meanwhile, reckons South Africa could do with a second spot in the Champions League.
If Pirates win it this year, SA would have two teams in the competition for the first time in a while, with league champions Kaizer Chiefs set to participate next year.
“That would be great for SA football. We need this kind of experience,” Klate said, although he dismissed as premature suggestions the league calendar should be aligned to that of the Confederation of African Football.
“You can’t move the calendar at the moment because we have only one team in the Champions League.
“And traditionally our teams get knocked out early. But the moment we have two spots back, and our teams progress, maybe it should be considered.
“We are struggling at the moment because you have a situation where we’ve played just two league games, while other teams are on six. It can’t work like that but I understand why the calendar cannot be move now.”
Pirates landed in Tunis yon Thursday afternoon after flying via Cairo. They are to train at the match venue on Friday night.