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
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
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.
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