30 October 2013
The South African Football Association (Safa) has called on football fans across the country to put club loyalties aside and support Orlando Pirates in the first leg of the Caf Champions League final against Al Ahly at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday.
Pirates qualified for the final after a goalless draw against Tunisian giants Esperance in Soweto and a 1-1 draw in Tunisia in the semi-finals, which saw the Buccaneers progressing to the final on the away goals rule.
“This is the defining moment, not just for Orlando Pirates, but for our football in general,” Safa President Danny Jordaan said in a statement on Tuesday. “The last time we won this competition was back in 1995, and that is a long time ago.
‘Standing at the gates of glory’
“Pirates have shown that with a good plan, more commitment and dedication we can do well in these competitions. It has not been an easy journey for them, but they walked the talk and now they are standing at the gates of glory. And I believe this is where we come in as fellow South Africans.
“We need to come out in numbers and make sure that when the players trot on to the field, they know the whole country is behind them by seeing a packed Orlando Stadium, and I believe they will do the business,” Jordaan added.
“A good result in the first leg will surely go a long way in giving them more confidence to tackle the return fixture. They have done us proud so far, so let us put our club differences aside and show our support.”
Travelling to Egypt
Jordaan also said it would be encouraging to see some fans travelling to Egypt for the second leg of the final, which takes place on 9 November.
“Imagine being in Cairo when Pirates lift the trophy, you would be a part of history. If there is any match you want to travel to as a fan, this is it. Seeing their supporters in the stands in a foreign land will also give Pirates players a boost.
“I urge all the fans who are able to travel to be part of this great experience to do so when there is still time. Go to your travel agent and make necessary arrangements. All the best to Pirates, we have great belief that they will be able to lift the trophy,” he concluded.
Gordon Igesund’s support
Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund added his words of support too. “Pirates are not doing this for themselves but for the country,” he said.
“Remember, after their famous victory in 1995 our football blossomed and we went on to win the 1996 African Cup of Nations.
“To [coach] Roger [De Sa], his technical team and the players, this is the moment you have all been dreaming of. Now it has come, go out there and do the best you can and we know you will deliver.
‘One hand on the trophy’
“Forget about your past result against Al Ahly as it will not matter this time around. Get a good result at home and you have one hand on the trophy.”
Echoing Jordaan, Igesund continued: “I would also like to emphasise the words of our President when he says fans must come in numbers to make life unbearable for Al Ahly at Orlando Stadium, because in Cairo they will not make things easy for our boys.
“Let us forget about our club colours but focus on the bigger picture, which is the flag of the country because that is what Pirates will be defending. Good luck.”
ORLANDO PIRATES’ PATH TO THE FINAL
Djabal Club (Comoros) 5-0, 4-0, 9-0
Zanaco (Zambia) 1-0, 2-1, 3-1
TP Mazembe (DR Congo) 3-1, 0-1, 3-2
AC Leopards (DR Congo) 0-0 (h)
Al Ahly (Egypt) 3-0 (a)
Zamalek (Egypt) 4-1 (h)
Zamalek (Egypt) 1-2 (a)
AC Leopards (DR Congo) 0-1 (a)
Al Ahly (Egypt) 0-0 (h)
Esperance (Tunisia) 0-0, 1-1, 1-1 (won on away goals)
SAinfo reporter and South African Football Association