DURBAN – Justin Shonga has come under fire for missing clear cut goal-scoring opportunities for Orlando Pirates in the last few months.
But he delivered the goods for the Buccaneers on Saturday against Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-final of the Telkom Knockout at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
The Zambian netted the winner which fired Pirates in to the final, where they will meet Baroka FC at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on December 8.
Sea Robbers coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic was more than happy to see his marksman ending his poor return in front of goals.
“Shonga and (Augustine) Mulenga are coming from a setback as Zambia failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations for the second time in succession.
“From such a setback, the best football answer is to bounce back. That’s what we are looking for.
“The help of Mulenga to Shonga for that winning goal is the best possible way to bounce back. We are happy to have him, and he is working very hard (Shonga),” Sredojevic said.
Shonga is expected to lead the line again for Pirates when they welcome Light Stars of Seychelles on Wednesday at Orlando Stadium in their opening fixture of the Caf Champions League (7.30pm).
“I think now all those who attacked him after missing so many chances, and the penalty last time (in the derby)l have seen that after all the stones of missing, the sunshine will come for him and the sunshine came when he scored that goal.
Pirates are unbeaten in the last 11 games across all the competitions. The Buccaneers are also playing proper football that is eye-catching.
“We are hoping to kick-start the Champions League in the best possible way. This is a very important competition to us,” Sredojevic explained.
They will visit the islanders in Seychelles next week for the return leg.
“Special thanks to our supporters, they have been with us through thick and thin. We are inviting our supporters to come and help us kick-start our campaign in the Caf Champions League.
“If we look behind ourselves, there are so many things to be proud of,“ Sredojevic elaborated.
Pirates have always made continental competitions their priority. They won their maiden triumph back in 1995 and were the losing finalists in 2013.
Micho and his troops will be embarking on a mission to make their supporters proud by winning the Telkom Knockout.
Pirates haven’t won silverware in four years. They have fell short on so many occasions in past finals, losing twice to SuperSport United in the Nedbank Cup and twice to Platinum Stars in the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout.
Pirates also succumbed to a 1-0 defeat against Kaizer Chiefs in the final of the MTN8 in 2015.@Minenhlecr7