History favours Pirates

2013-10-19 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Orlando Pirates midfielder Oupa Manyisa believes his team-mates will not be intimidated by the 45 000-capacity crowd at the Stade Olympique de Radès stadium in Tunisia today.

Pirates will take on the North African giants Esperance in their Caf Champions League semi-final second leg, after the first encounter ended in a goalless stalemate at the Orlando Stadium two weeks ago.

Many critics felt that Pirates were lucky to get out of that game with a draw, and their lack of firepower and attacking movement was well documented after the clash.

Speaking exclusively to the club’s website, “Ace” hinted that the Buccaneers squad is full of players with international experience and that will be an advantage to the Soweto giants in tonight’s encounter.

“Look, let me put it this way. We have a number of players in the squad who have national team experience. Some of these players have played in front of even larger crowds so I don’t think this will be much of a problem for us,” said Manyisa.

“The Soweto derby is another match that requires you to be mentally strong … the expectations of all 85 000 to 90 000 supporters in a derby are always high. I believe this type of pressure has prepared us for our match against Esperance.”

Roger de Sa’s charges need a victory or any scoring stalemate to advance to the final of the 2013 continental showpiece to be played next month.

History still favours the South African side as they are unbeaten against the two-time Caf champions in their previous two matches.

Esperance have lost only four matches at home in the last six years, but the Buccaneers will fancy causing an upset as they did in Lubumbashi against TP Mazembe earlier in the competition.

The Sea Robbers also triumphed 3-0 over the Egyptian giants Al Ahly in their own backyard in the group stages.

Orlando Pirates legend Helman Mkhalele says Caf Champions League success will lift the entire football industry in South Africa and should help Gordon Igesund’s mission to turn Bafana Bafana into a force again.

“When we won the Champions Cup with Pirates in 1995, it gave our football as a whole a big lift. Players suddenly had more belief in themselves,” Mkhalele tells KickOff.com.

“And I’m telling you, it helped Bafana win the Nations Cup a few weeks later because we Pirates players brought that strong belief, that winning mentality into the squad, and it rubbed off.”

The same can happen again, Mkhalele reckons. “Pirates players who’ve grown more confident because of their victories over TP Mazembe and the two Egyptian teams can take that confidence back into Bafana.”

The clash is set to commence at 8 pm South African time.

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