S'Busiso Mseleku

Does Pirates' loss spell doom and gloom for SA soccer?

2015-11-30 11:51
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)
After promising so much, Orlando Pirates, already baptised continental giants by those who swear by the black and white as well as the crossbones and skull, came a cropper this weekend.

The 1-0 defeat in the CAF Confederation Cup final second leg (for a 2-1 aggregate score) at the hands of Tunisian opponents Etoile du Sahel meant curtains to their ambitions of adding a second continental title to their 1995 African Champions League diadem.

Pirates still remain the only side from these parts of the continent - Southern Africa - that have a continental title.

But history will show that it was 20 years ago when Jerry Sikhosana scored that vital away goal against Asec Mimosas in Abidjan.

This is also the second time in three years that the Buccaneers falter at the final furlong. They also fell at  the same stage of  the Champions League three years ago, meaning this is yet another amper daar situation.

And knowing how fickle South African football supporters (or fans in this case) are, one can now guarantee that Eric Tinkler is going to be under  the spotlight. There are going to be those who will call for his blood.

They will start looking at the club's position on the log. It will also come up that their beloved Sea Robbers have already lost out on two cups this season, the MTN8 and the Telkom Knockout Cup.

Such is the nature of the game.

On the national front, it was also a gloomy weekend as the SA Under-23 national team faltered in their opening Olympic Qualifier in Senegal.

They were walloped 3-1 by the hosts.

The more worrying factor is that they really looked wobbly in that match.

The strong side that coach Owen da Gama has at his disposal after the Premier Soccer League bent over backwards by postponing their programme in order to allow the coach to pick the cream of the crop, were not convincing at all.

They now have it all to play for in their last two Group stages matches against Zambia and Tunisia.

They will need to win the two matches or else, they will be back home by this weekend.

That will be sad and will also mean they fail to emulate their Under-17 counterparts who went through the African qualifiers and made it to the FIFA Under-17 World Cup where they were eliminated in the first round.

The senior women's soccer team, Banyana Banyana atoned for their failure to reach their World Cup by qualifying for their second Olympic Games. They will be one of the nations at the 2016 Games in Rio.

So the Under-23 national men's soccer team has it all to do to ensure that they join their sisters at the  Olympic Games.

Qualifying for the Olympics will be a great Christmas present for the nation in what has been a year full of promise on the  international front.

So while Pirates are left to lick their wounds after being so closed and yet so far, the Under-23s still has an opportunity to make the nation proud.

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    orlando pirates  |  s'busiso mseleku  |  soccer

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