Pirates coach blames lacking team spirit

2012-03-06 16:18

Orlando Pirates coach Julio Leal has blamed poor team spirit for their early exit from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Champions League.

Pirates were eliminated in the preliminary stages of the Champions League, drawing 1-1 with Recreativo do Libolo in the second leg in Calulo, Angola, at the weekend.

Recreativo progressed to the competition’s first round stages with a 4-2 aggregate score, having won the first leg 3-1 in South Africa a fortnight ago.

Pirates fans bemoaned the team’s poor execution, with some saying the team played “not to win”.

Said Leal: “There was no team spirit on Saturday. We did not see the fighting spirit. It was not there.”

Leal denied that there had been dressing room unrest.

He has come under fire in the media in the past few months and again following their 4-2 Champions League defeat in Angola this week.

It was reported that Leal had lost the dressing room and senior players have questioned his coaching abilities and tactics.

“I have no problems with my players. I don’t treat my players like my sons; I treat them like my friends. We have good communication. Our relationship is also very good,” he said.

“On other days we have played well and got the praise we deserved. We lost the game but it has gone now. Now the lads are fit and raring to go, and hopefully we can get going again in the Nedbank Cup. There is no point in dwelling on negatives. I think we’re on course to defend the league title,” he said.

Leal admitted that he was supposed to meet chairperson Irvin Khoza before they left for Angola at the weekend.

Pirates are travelling to Durban where they meet little-known Ethekwini Coastal FC in the Nedbank Cup game on Saturday.

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