South Africa lets unite behind Orlando Pirates

2013-10-21 11:43

On Saturday Orlando Pirates moved a step closer to becoming the champions of Africa, a feat that has only been achieved once by a Southern African team in the last 18 years. Ironically by Pirates themselves, it was in 1995 that a Pirates team with South African legends such as Edward Motale, John Moeti, Tebego Moloi, Dumisa Ngobe, Helman Mkhalele, Brenden Silent, Marc Batchelor, Jerry Skosana, Bruce Ramokadi and Marks Maponyane took on the best Africa had to offer and beat them. Now 18 years, later another group of special talents have come along and are in the final, only 2 wins away from winning the prestigious tournament. One can’t help but be optimistic about the future of our football as we will all remember that after Pirates triumphed in 1995, Bafana went on to win the AFCON in 1996 and qualified for the first time for the World Cup in 19998. The reason I’m so optimistic is the fact that it has been proven that countries whose football clubs perform well in continental tournaments tend to have success in international football. For instance if you look at the most successful national team in Africa in terms of the AFCON, Egypt you will notice that their success on the continent is interlinked with their success in the Champions league. During that run as African champions from 2006 -2010 their clubs won from 2005 to 2010 four CAF champions league titles and were runners up once. Considering that the Egyptian national team consists mostly of players that play domestically, it goes to show that this tournament is valuable in terms of national success. Even when looking further afield one will notice that the Spanish team that has dominated World football, has also dominated European club football and the country that I personally feel comes close to matching them Germany also has had great success in the club scene.

The reason why success in continental club championships is beneficial to national teams is because it gives the players the opportunity to gain valuable experience which then benefits the national team when the player is chosen to represent his country. For instance in order to win the AFCON or qualify for the World Cup South Africa has to play in African against African opposition.  It is a fact that South African has the best sporting facilities on the continent and that when teams are coming to South Africa they will be treated to the best 5 star hotels, training and match facilities. However the case becomes different when we travel to other countries, there are few places on the continent where we would expect the same treatment. Not only do we have to contend with sub-standard playing facilities, accommodation and training facilities, we also have to contend with armed military personnel on the touch line and all sorts of intimidation. Unless one is used to such conditions it is quite difficult to perform at your optimum and the only way one can get used to such conditions is through gaining experience at championships such as the champions’ league. If Mark Fish had not played in the 1995 winning team would he have been able to soldier on during the play off with DRC during the qualifiers for the 98 World Cup? One wonders but I don’t think so. I remember once listening to Jerry Skhosana’s interview about the horrific playing conditions they faced back then and hearing Roger De Sa’s analogy that “it worse than a movie” gives an indication to the difficulties the players face. The only way to get the players harden to such atrocities is through playing in these conditions regularly and gaining the experience to thrive under them. Pirates have certainly managed to that and this can only be beneficial to South African football as a whole. Considering that the Pirates team consists of mainly South African players eligible to represent the country gives hope to Bafana Bafana being able to benefit from the experience gained in this great run. Not only will the national team benefit but other clubs with take positives from Pirates endeavors. Kaizer Chiefs who will be representing SA in the next championship will obviously by inspired by their rival’s success and will try out do them or match their exploits at least, thereby raising the level of SA football and the calibre of the national team.

Every football loving person wants a strong national team, one that can go out there and not only compete but win. One of the ingredients to building that national team is success in continental club championships. Therefore in the interests of SA football as a whole, I call on all patriotic sports lovers to support Orlando Pirates in their quest to conquer Africa. Let’s get behind them and will them on to bring the trophy home. This call is not to urge supporters to abandon their teams and sign up for Pirates but rather to pull on their favorite team’s apparel and flock to OR Tambo International at 14h30 today and welcome the boys back. This call is to flood the twitter timelines, facebook, etc. of the teams and its players with messages of support. This call is to fill the Stadium on the 02 of November 2013 and reflect the rainbow nation’s support for the Buccaneers as they make us proud and put SA name on the map. All in all South Africa lets unite behind Orlando Pirates.

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