Bucs, Chiefs skippers blame fans lockout for poor run

Jele, Parker insist they missed '12th man'

Neville Khoza Journalist
Happy Jele of Orlando Pirates and Bernard Parker of Kaizer Chiefs during the 2021 Carling Black Label Cup Launch at Focus Rooms in Johannesburg.
Happy Jele of Orlando Pirates and Bernard Parker of Kaizer Chiefs during the 2021 Carling Black Label Cup Launch at Focus Rooms in Johannesburg.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

Orlando Pirates captain Happy Jele is of the view that had fans been allowed at the stadium, they would have performed better.

Many had thought Pirates would challenge Mamelodi Sundowns for the league title, given the quality signings such as Deon Hotto, Thabang Monare and Richard Ofori brought on board.

However, the Buccaneers failed to live up to the expectations, annexing only the MTN8 and slipping behind AmaZulu and Golden Arrows in the DStv Premiership standings. Jele feels the absence of fans at the stadium due to Covid-19 did them dirty in their attempts to go toe-to-toe with the Brazilians.

“It has been difficult. We needed the 12th man to motivate us every game,” Jele said during the Carling Black Label Cup launch in Sandton yesterday.

“It is strange when we get to the stadium and there are no fans. We hope the fans will come back."

Kaizer Chiefs striker Bernard Parker echoed Jele's sentiments. Chiefs are battling for the top eight.

Despite doing well in the CAF Champions League, they are struggling in the Premiership.

“It’s been difficult [without fans]. We feel it as players. We do miss the fans,” Parker said.

“They are the 12th man that pushes us, and it puts us on another level in terms of our performance. It has been difficult without them.

“But we are professionals, and we know what we need to do the job as we can. It has affected the way we play.”

Meanwhile, the Carling Black Label Cup will be back on July 31 at 8pm without spectators, with Pirates taking on Chiefs in the pre-season friendly where line-ups are selected exclusively by fans.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.