Johannesburg – If Orlando Pirates win this year’s edition of the Caf Champions League, captain Lucky Lekgwathi can retire, put his feet up for a while and tell his kids how he got his name into football folklore.
The 37-year-old has won everything there is to win in local football and, while many would be satisfied, Lekgwathi wants a Champions League medal as his retiring gift.
“That would be such a great thing, to leave football knowing that you won everything at home and the Champions League as well,” said Lekgwathi, who would go down as one of the greatest captains this country has seen if the Buccaneers claim their second Champions League title this year.
Between 2010 and 2012, Lekgwathi lifted six trophies with the Buccaneers as they ruled in local football. But last season Pirates finished the Premiership season empty handed while rivals Kaizer Chiefs claimed a league and cup double.
However, winning the Champions League would certainly make up for that, Lekgwathi feels.
As things stand, Pirates are doing well to keep the captain’s hopes of lifting the trophy alive, but there’s still a long way to go before the Buccaneers realise their dream of being African champions.
On four points at the top of Group A, Pirates play their third Champions League group stage match against Egyptian giants Zamalek at Orlando Stadium today (8.15pm), two weeks after trouncing the visitors’ biggest rivals, Al Ahly, 3-0.
“We want to be in the history books, but we have to work very hard to achieve our goal (of winning the competition). We can do it and make South Africa proud,” Lekgwathi said.
“We are playing this game at home, but it won’t be easy because teams from Egypt are not easy to play against. We hope our supporters will come out and rally behind us. A win will take us to seven points and that will give us a good chance of going through to the semifinals.”
Pirates’ opponents, Zamalek, have not started their group stage campaign well, collecting just one point in their first two matches.
But Lekgwathi has warned his teammates not to underestimate the Egyptians, who have former national team captain Ahmed Hassan in their squad.
“We watched a video of Zamalek when they played Al Ahly and they did well. They scored first, but then they conceded. What we saw is that they created lots of chances.
“They may not be doing well at the moment, but we can’t underestimate them.”
One player Pirates should look out for is Sikhabalala, a man known as the “Lionel Messi of Egypt”.
The left-footed midfielder, who wears the famous No 10 jersey, is a tricky footballer, not afraid to take shots from range. He previously had a two-year stint with Greek club PAOK.
Pirates will be without big striker Collins Mbesuma and midfield anchorman Thandani Ntshumayelo, who have both been ruled out through injuries.
“The preparations throughout the week have been going well.
“Some players who were injured after last weekend’s game against SuperSport have recovered. Me, Rooi (Mahamutsa) and (Andile) Jali are all fine to play,” Lekgwathi said.