Can Orlando Pirates remain unbeaten at home against Ahli Benghazi? Josef Zinnbauer think so
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Orlando Pirates’ coach Josef Zinnbauer is relatively satisfied with his team’s outing in the group stage of the Caf Confederation Cup, but banks on their impressive home record to inspire them to victory against Ahli Benghazi on Sunday.
The Buccaneers are second on the standings in Group A with five points, one behind leaders Enyimba and one ahead of third-placed Benghazi. This follows after one win over Enyimba at home, and two draws against ES Setif in Tunisia and Benghazi in Libya.
“It’s a good competition. We’ve seen different teams, with different systems and playing fields. In our last game, we played on an artificial pitch. It was not easy for players who are not used to such fields. But it was a good experience for us,” Zinnbauer told the media on Friday.
“We now have the next home game. In the last game at home, we had three points and that’s our next target now. When we have a good game, good performance and three points, we are happy. And we go forward. Three points at home, pulls us closer to the quarterfinals.”
Pirates will host Benghazi at the Orlando Stadium on Sunday evening (6pm) hoping to claim maximum points that will ensure they’ll leapfrog Enyimba. Although it might be for a short while, given the Nigerians will only kick-off their fourth round of matches against ES Setif three hours later.
However, that’s easier said than done. The stubborn Ethiopians who held Pirates to a goalless draw in their last encounter at Benina Martyrs Stadium are also still within a shot at finishing in the top two in Group A which would see them qualify for the knockout stage.
But after an impressive unbeaten home record this season, which includes two wins in as many matches in the continental showpiece, Pirates have ample reason to believe that they can bag their second win in the group, although it won't be easy.
“We know that we are very strong at home. And when you have so many games unbeaten, you want to be unbeaten in the next game as well. I am a person who also works the best way I can. I think that my players also have the same view,” Zinnbauer said.
“We’ll now fight for the three points. We want to go to the quarterfinals, and that’s why we need three points at home. The target was always to get one point or more in the away games. We know we have a strong opponent but we know it’s possible to get three points.”
African football is an uncharted territory for Zinnbauer who’s in his second season at Pirates and on the continent. But it’s not for captain Happy Jele who’s been a servant of the famous black and white jersey of Pirates since 2006.
With the Sea Robbers, Jele was part and parcel of the brigade of army that fell at the last hurdle of the Champions League and Confederation Cup to Egyptian and Tunisian giants Al Ahly and Etoile du Sahel in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
But the 34-year-old defender is brimming with confidence that the current crop of players, who’ve already delivered silverware to the club’s trophy cabinet after six seasons of complete dust, can also reach the final of this season’s continental showpiece.