Fly the flag, Sea Rob­bers!

Nor­mal at­tack and im­proved de­fence should do the job for Pi­rates as they strive to re­peat their pre­de­ces­sors’ 1995 feat

CityPress - - Sport - TIM­O­THY MOLOBI tim­o­thy@city­press.co.za

‘If they did it in 1995, we can do it too.” This was the Or­lando Pi­rates play­ers’ ral­ly­ing mes­sage to their sup­port­ers be­fore jet­ting out of the coun­try for Tu­nisia on Thurs­day. As they take on Étoile du Sa­hel in the sec­ond leg of the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup fi­nal this af­ter­noon, the Pi­rates class of 2015 be­lieve they are a game away from em­u­lat­ing the class of 1995.

“When the class of ’95 went to Abid­jan [in Ivory Coast], they had con­ceded two goals at home, but the guys be­lieved and backed them­selves to do the im­pos­si­ble,” said striker Ker­mit Eras­mus.

“All it took was just one goal, and the rest is his­tory. This group has some of the best play­ers in the coun­try, and we have given ev­ery­thing through our cur­rent CAF jour­ney, and now we have noth­ing to lose. We sim­ply have to go there and get back that away goal.”

After a 1-1 draw at home in the first leg last week­end, Pi­rates must score in Sousse, Tu­nisia, if they are to stand a chance of lift­ing the sec­ond-tier con­ti­nen­tal cup.

This week, Pi­rates coach Eric Tin­kler ac­cused the Tu­nisians of be­ing dis­re­spect­ful af­ter they cel­e­brated their goal in front of the Bucs bench last Satur­day.

There would be no bet­ter re­venge for Bucs than trounc­ing Du Sa­hel in their own back yard.

Pi­rates will be with­out Than­dani Nt­shu­mayelo, who is sus­pended for this game.

How­ever, in crafter Issa Sarr they have a ca­pa­ble re­place­ment, who should be able to fill the void left by the nippy mid­fielder.

Last week’s goal scorer, Tham­sanqa Gabuza, will be car­ry­ing not only the hopes of Bucs sup­port­ers, but the na­tion’s hopes too.

Gabuza is the com­pe­ti­tion’s joint lead­ing scorer, on six goals, and he will fight for the golden boot award with Du Sa­hel’s Bagh­dad Bouned­jah in this af­ter­noon’s fi­nal match.

Kick­off for the match was ini­tially at 8.30pm SA time, but it has been brought for­ward to 4pm (also SA time) due to se­cu­rity con­cerns in Tu­nisia af­ter 12 peo­ple were killed in a bus ex­plo­sion this week.

Key fac­tors for Pi­rates

Know­ing that they need to score af­ter con­ced­ing at home, Pi­rates will play with the in­tent to score goals. They have noth­ing to lose, as they need to take the game to the hosts.

Good trav­ellers

Although they failed in 2013 in the fi­nal of the CAF Cham­pi­ons League against Al Ahly, his­tory shows that Pi­rates do well when they play away from home.

Tin­kler’s men go into the game hav­ing scored in ev­ery sin­gle fix­ture of their cam­paign so far, and as the top scor­ers in the tour­na­ment. They have lost just one game away from home in the tour­na­ment, against Za­malek, and will be con­fi­dent that they can at least get a goal in Tu­nisia.

De­fen­sive frail­ties

Pi­rates were a bit dis­or­gan­ised at the back last Satur­day, as they were of­ten caught square. They must change the way they de­fend, es­pe­cially on set pieces, as Du Sa­hel showed they were good in that de­part­ment. Con­cen­tra­tion will be also be key to­day.

Pi­rates need to be bolder and show ag­gres­sion from the be­gin­ning. They need to rise to the oc­ca­sion, es­pe­cially be­cause no one is giv­ing them a chance to win away from home. Con­sider Du Sa­hel’s im­pres­sive home record, log­ging 17 wins in 20 home games in all com­pe­ti­tions since Novem­ber last year.

They have also kept clean sheets in five of their seven home games in this year’s tour­na­ment.

In­tim­i­da­tion

The at­mos­phere at the Olympic Sta­dium in Sousse will not be wel­com­ing to the Buc­ca­neers, but they can­not al­low that to in­tim­i­date them. They will face a hos­tile re­cep­tion, but they should be used to this by now.

Hav­ing faced Al Ahly’s Ul­tras fans in Cairo, they should be able to han­dle the pres­sure. They can eas­ily turn this to their ad­van­tage by si­lenc­ing the crowd with an early goal, which will force Du Sa­hel to come out. First prize: $635 000 (R9 mil­lion) Se­cond prize: $432 000

PHOTO: LEFTY SHIV­AMBU / GALLO IM­AGES

DAN­GER MAN

Bagh­dad Bouned­jah will pose a dan­ger to the Bucs rear­guard

PHOTO: LEFTY SHIV­AMBU / GALLO IM­AGES

GO­ING FOR GOAL Tham­sanqa

Gabuza will be look­ing to fin­ish as the top scorer

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