Orlando Pirates to swoop in on Eagles
The Buccaneers are in Zambia where Eagles will host them at Lusaka’s Nkoloma Stadium this afternoon.
And having made it clear that their intention is to bring an end to their four-year long trophy drought, Pirates have to show in matches such as this early round tie that they mean business.
Domestically, Micho Sredojevic and his men sounded a clear warning to the rest of the Absa Premiership and to champions Mamelodi Sundowns in particular that they no longer want to play the bridesmaids role, by beating Bloemfontein Celtic 3-1 in the season’s opener.
The fact that the club’s new jersey for the season is similar to that which was worn by that amazing class of 1995 who earned the star that is above the club’s crest via the Champions Cup victory, puts Happy Jele and company under some kind of pressure to do well this term.
And the skipper, his troops and the coach have generally described themselves as being ready to bring joy to the long-suffering Ghost.
Their words will be taken to heart if they render their tie with Eagles a no-contest this afternoon with a victory so compelling the second leg would merely be academic.
Their hosts though have other ideas with Eagles coach Aggrey Chiyangi saying that they too are set on adding a memorable chapter to their story.
Speaking to cafonline.com, Chiyangi said: “The mindset we want to put in our players is that they have to make history again and that means we have to fight hard to make sure we qualify for the next round.”
It means there can be no taking things for granted as Pirates begin a journey that they and their supporters are hoping will end with Jele emulating Innocent Mncwango by lifting continental club football’s ultimate prize.
Pirates are fortunate in that they have the duo of Justin Shonga and Augustine Mulenga to give them pointers as to Chiyangi’s approach to matches given that he is also their coach at the national team, Chipolopolo.
But Chiyangi was speaking tough, reminding everyone that the game of football is played on the field by 11 players on each side and that a team’s status has little influence on the game.
“Pirates will be difficult. But we will make sure we will also do our best because in football anything can happen. You cannot just play football on paper, football is played on the pitch.”
That much the Buccaneers are aware of and you can bet Micho would have drummed the importance of not taking the opposition lightly into his players’ heads as he looks to make it third time lucky - the Serbian being in his third season in charge and without a trophy yet.
Pirates are not the only Premiership side in Champions League action this weekend as local champions Mamelodi Sundowns are away in the Congo for a clash with Otoho D’Oyo tomorrow.@tshiliboy