Messi forces Pi­rates to break with tra­di­tion

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY DAVID LEGGE

Popular South African soc­cer club Or­lando Pi­rates will this week­end ac­knowl­edge the pulling power of Lionel Messi and break with tra­di­tion.

The Soweto club, who tra­di­tion­ally stage Satur­day fix­tures at night, have brought for­ward by five hours a CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup play-off against Guineans Kaloum.

Club of­fi­cial Floyd Mbele said the Buc­ca­neers did not want to go headto-head with the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal be­tween Barcelona and Ju­ven­tus in Ber­lin.

Tele­vised Euro­pean soc­cer is hugely popular in South Africa, and even Pi­rates crowd-pullers like mid­fielder Oupa Many­isa could not hope to com­pete with Messi and Barca team­mate Ney­mar.

The win­tery weather that has struck Jo­han­nes­burg, send­ing tem­per­a­tures plum­met­ing af­ter dusk to sin­gle-digit cel­sius fig­ures, means Pi­rates’ 1500 lo­cal time (1300 GMT) kick-off makes added sense.

Pi­rates will de­fend a 2-0 lead over Kaloum at Bid­vest Sta­dium close to cen­tral Jo­han­nes­burg be­cause Or­lando Sta­dium in Soweto is un­der­go­ing close-sea­son main­te­nance.

While the ground holds only 5,000 spec­ta­tors, Pi­rates as­sis­tant coach and for­mer star Te­bogo Moloi be­lieves the venue will work in fa­vor of the 1995 African cham­pi­ons.

“We want to cre­ate a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment for Kaloum. Bid­vest Sta­dium is com­pact and hope­fully it will be packed with our sup­port­ers,” he said.

Com­pla­cency is the ma­jor con­cern of Moloi and head coach Eric Tin­kler, a mid­field en­forcer in the 1996 South Africa Cup of Na­tion­swin­ning team.

“We dare not dis­play ar­ro­gance go­ing into this match, think­ing that the Guineans are go­ing to make it easy for us,” warned Moloi.

Kaloum, one of eight CAF Cham­pi­ons League last-16 losers de­moted to the sec­ond-tier Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup, flew to South Africa with a new coach, Ivory Coast-born Rigo Ger­vais.

Com­pa­triot Fran­cois Za­houi was axed af­ter the Cham­pi­ons League exit and French re­place­ment Hugo Cabouret lasted just one CAF fix­ture.

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