Pirates remain upbeat despite draw

2015-11-22 13:23
Thamsanqa Gabuza (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates will have to go to Tunisia and score in order to achieve their dream of winning a second continental title.

The Buccaneers were held to a 1-1 draw by Etoile du Sahel in the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.

Striker Thamsanqa Gabuza had given Pirates the lead with a thunderous shot in the 36th minute. However, Sahel were given a lifeline when their stand-in captain Amar Jemal equalised after the ball found him unmarked inside the box with three minutes remaining.

"Having conceded at home is what we didn't want to do. But we also didn't want to lose it 1-0 and have to chase two goals," coach Eric Tinkler told reporters after the match.

"If I look at how we conceded, it was a mixture of their fortune and us being slow to react so we got caught. "They're well organised defensively and play with six at the back at times. We worked to counter that with Happy (Jele) and Thabo (Matlaba) higher up.

Jele, who was the skipper on the day, the second time he has led Pirates in a continental final, said they were disappointed to concede.

“We're disappointed to concede at home but it's still a good result because we didn't lose and have another 90 minutes to go,” said the right back, who also captained Pirates in the 2013 CAF Champions League final first leg after Lucky Lekgwathi was rested.

Tinkler lauded scorer Gabuza, who is currently in a good vein of form for club and country.

"Gabuza's confidence is high. He is scoring goals, he's a national player and works hard. It's great for him and the team.”

The coach also commended the other front man Kermit Erasmus for his tireless effort, "Kermit is a marked man because he is a top player. This is what they go through on a weekly basis. I can't fault his effort."

Pirates will travel to Tunisia for the return leg of the final on Sunday, where they will need to score to turn things around in the tie.

Jele is confident that the Sea Robbers, who are chasing their second African crown, will be able to redeem themselves.

"We need to go to Tunisia and play our game, enjoy ourselves. They will be under pressure and will try to defend from the beginning.

"The Class of 95 conceded two goals and went to Abidjan and scored one. The rest is history because they believed. We also believe," Jele emphasized.

Pirates have enjoyed a good run in their away matches and Tinkler is upbeat that his side will deliver in Tunisia.

"We are a good team away from home and have the quality to score. We have proven that throughout the competition. We've shown character and hard work throughout this tournament. The players have fought for each other and we believed in them too," the former Bafana Bafana midfielder said.

Thandani Ntshumayelo, who was part of the team that played in the 2013 final against Egyptians Al Ahly, said the Buccaneers will be ready for the second leg.

"We know we have to work extra hard in Tunisia because of the goal conceded. But we will work on Monday (at training) and start again."

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