S'Busiso Mseleku

Buccaneers strike blow for SA

2013-11-11 14:30
Sport24 columnist S’Busiso Mseleku (File)
Despite their loss in the CAF Champions League final, Orlando Pirates have struck a major blow for South African football.

Their travel through all the adversities they encountered on their way to the final until the 2-0 loss against Egyptian giants Al Ahly - who claimed their eighth title - should serve as a booster for South African clubs and players that they can do it.

Pirates just fell short of claiming their second title. They still remain the only club from Southern Africa to have won the continent’s supreme club championship.

Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns have both reached the final and also came short.

As Chiefs prepare to represent the country in the same tournament next year as reigning league champions, they will know that they have a high mountain to climb. Expectations will be high, given Pirates’ exploits.

Now Pirates must turn their focus to the domestic league where they trail everybody having only played three matches while some clubs have already played up to 10?????????????????

There is also still that small matter of the Telkom Cup where they are in the semi-finals.

I think more than anything, coach Roger de Sa might be faced with a huge psychological battle with the players.

It might prove to be a mammoth task for the players to adjust from the highs of being on the verge of winning a continental trophy to coming back and compete for domestic titles.

The hype was very high and the comparisons drawn between the 1995 squad that overcame a 2-2 draw in Johannesburg to score a 1-0 away victory against Asec Mimosas in Abidjan, must have sent the players’ hopes sky-high.

Pirates’ management must be commended for putting all the structures in place for the players to perform at their utmost. Big ups to the nation also - except for a handful of Kaizer Chiefs supporters - for backing the Buccaneers all the way through.

On a sour note, while we as South Africans would not like to appear as sour losers, I think CAF need to do something drastic to ensure that there is fair play.

It is quite unacceptable that in 2013, clubs are still exposed to the kind of treatment that was meted to Pirates in Lubumbashi when they went to play TP Mazembe, in Tunisia for their semi-final against Esperance and in the final.

The blue laser lights that were trained at Pirates players’ right through the 90 minutes of the final leg in Cairo can never be classified fair play.

While fans are regarded as the 12th man for their teams, their form of support should only be restricted to singing and chanting as a form if encouragement for their players. These should not include intimidating tactics and unsporting behavior.

Pirate’s players have grown in confidence due to their performance in this tournament and one hopes that this can be translated to Bafana Bafana just like it was the case after the 1995 success.

It was at this backdrop that the soccer national team went on to claim the Africa Cup of Nations the following year.

Can this happen in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) that will be hosted here in January? One hopes so.

It is an achievement we need to build on as a nation and it will be sad to see the chance goes begging just as it has been the case since 1996 when the national team has been on a downward spiral.

Let’s not allow this to happen.

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.

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