Orlando Pirates starting to believe that another continental final may be in the offing
The current Orlando Pirates have a growing confidence from their performances in the 2020-21 Caf Confederation Cup that they are “capable of going to the final” again‚ as they did in 2015‚ veteran captain Happy Jele has said.
Pirates are showing resilience and that all-crucial fight in each game in the 2020-21 Confed that is necessary to reach continental cup finals‚ reminiscent of their performances in the Confed in 2015‚ and also reaching the final of the 2013 Caf Champions League.
Bucs meet Al Ahli Benghazi‚ who they were unfortunate to be held to a point by in Libya last weekend (0-0)‚ in the return match at Orlando Stadium on Sunday (kickoff 6pm).
Pirates‚ on five points‚ are second in Group A to Enyimba (six points) having won their lone home game against the Nigerian leaders‚ and drawn both matches away against ES Setif of Algeria in neutral Ghana and Ahli in Benghazi on Sunday.
Jele is a veteran of Bucs’ two stirring runs to continental cup finals in the past decade‚ losing 3-1 on aggregate to Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the 2013 Champions League last match‚ and 2-1 to Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel in the 2015 Confed. He said Josef Zinnbauer’s Bucs have what it takes to at least match those performances.
He also cautioned Pirates to not get ahead of themselves as they meet the team with four points in Group A.
“Ja‚ we can go though to the final. We’ve got a good team‚ everyone now knows how to win trophies‚” the 34-year-old‚ whose presence at the back for Bucs seems to contribute to stability in performances and results‚ said on Friday.
“And we can even see the way they play in this competition. The players put a lot of effort‚ and there’s a lot of playing for each other.
“And the results show – we never lost a game away‚ and we won the games at home. So it shows that they are capable of getting to the final.
“But also we have to start by competing this weekend‚ and the following games as well‚ so that we go to the quarterfinals. That’s the most important thing - let’s not talk about the final yet.
“But what I can say is that we are capable of going to the final.”
The 2020-21 Bucs might even have an edge in player quality – bolstered by a string of high-class off-season signings – on Eric Tinkler’s team of 2015.
That side finished seventh in the 2015-16 Premiership. This season Bucs are in fifth place‚ though their chances of challenging for the title are becoming increasingly marginal as they trail leaders Mamelodi Sundowns‚ who have two games in hand‚ by eight points.
Setif‚ surprisingly bottom of Group A on a point from three games‚ will aim to improve on that return with a win against Enyimba in Algeria on Sunday‚ in a group that is proving exceptionally tight and competitive.