Pirates have won the battle, not the war – Fikile Mbalula

2013-10-22 08:44

He applauds Pirates’ “fighting spirit and determination for representing the country with pride” but “it’s not over yet”, Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula has said.

Orlando Pirates received a heroes’ welcome from as many as 1 000 supporters from various PSL teams at OR Tambo International yesterday afternoon.

After reaching the final of the CAF Champions League, in which they will play Egyptian giants Al Ahly next weekend, Pirates players were mobbed by excited supporters on their return from Tunisia.

Supporters wearing various PSL clubs regalia braved the rain and waited for more than two hours before Pirates players emerged in the arrivals hall.

They were welcomed to the sound of vuvuzelas and singing as supporters battled to grab their attention.

Mbalula, flanked by Gauteng MEC for Sport Lebogang Maile, was among the welcoming party.

Mbalula expressed his gratitude to all South Africans for showing their support to the Buccaneers. He also congratulated Pirates for reaching the final, but cautioned them against complacency.

“We always say we reward excellence, not mediocrity, but we can’t do that before the final next weekend. You have won the battle, not the war,” said Mbalula.

He urged them to keep their feet on the ground and focus on the final.

Maile said he was encouraged by the kind of support the team had been receiving from various sporting codes and other teams’ supporters.

“Now the challenge is to fill the stadium next weekend when they host Al Ahly and I am confident South Africans will come in large numbers,” said Maile.

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