Happy Jele calls on team to unite as African dream continues against Enyimba
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Orlando Pirates captain Happy Jele is confident that the current crop of players can emulate and even pass the class of 2015 which reached the Confederation Cup final before losing to Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel.
Pirates won their three games in the qualifiers before opening their 2021 group stage campaign with a goalless draw with ES Setif in Ghana last week.
The Buccaneers will return home to Orlando Stadium this evening to host Nigerian outfit Enyimba FC in their second group game.
Should Pirates win, they will boost their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
Jele, the longest serving player in the Pirates squad having played for the Buccaneers for the last 15 years, says they can reach the final of the tournament as long as they stick together as a team and play to win, always.
“I see a lot of potential in the team that we have, looking at the way we play,” he said.
“Each and every one works for one another, so it’s possible that we can reach the final and get the Cup as well.
“For me, we’ve got a good squad, so we just need to get the results,” Jele added.
With Enyimba one of the favourites to not only win Group A but the tournament as well, how much do Pirates know about them since their last meeting, which was back in 2006 in the CAF Champions League group stage?
“We’ve looked at them through the video analysis session on Sunday and Monday. We know that they are a dangerous team. We saw their weaknesses and strong points. We just have to do what we need to do. The technical team has prepared us well,” Jele said.
Pirates are third on the Premiership standings with 35 points, four behind leaders and champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who have three games in hand.
But while Pirates have blown hot and cold in the domestic campaign, they’ve been ruthless in cup competitions.
In 10 cup matches this season, both locally and in Africa, Pirates have won nine, while they’ve drawn only one.
Besides playing in the Confederation Cup, they are also in the quarter-finals of the Nedbank Cup, where they’ll next face Sundowns.
Pirates’ German coach Josef Zinnbauer is aware of their hectic schedule, but he says it comes with the job.
“As a player and coach you always have pressure when you are at a club such as Orlando Pirates,” Zinnbauer said.
“But we need the pressure. It gives us motivation going into a game, when you want to win three points or progress to the next round.
“The name of the club is big. It’s a Champions League team. It’s one of the big teams in the country.
“We know that the players are focused week in and week out, and we need that kind of pressure going into the games.”
Three points for Pirates against Enyimba will serve as a huge morale booster heading into an away Premiership match against arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday (FNB Stadium, 3pm).
Pirates have already beaten Chiefs three times this season – twice in the MTN8 and once in the league.