FOR­MER player and Or­lando Pi­rates as­sis­tant coach, Te­boho Moloi knows all about com­pet­ing in the Caf Cham­pi­ons League and be­lieves that men­tal strength will be key for the Buc­ca­neers in their pur­suit of con­ti­nen­tal glory.

Moloi was a mem­ber of the Or­lando Pi­rates team that lifted the Caf Cham­pi­ons League in 1995. He was also on the bench when Pi­rates lost to Al Ahly in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal back in 2013. Back then Moloi was Roger De Sa’s deputy. He was also as­sist­ing Eric Tin­kler when Pi­rates were beaten by Etolie du Sa­hel in the fi­nal of the Caf Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup.

Now Pi­rates will face Lights­tars of Sey­chelles to­day in the sec­ond leg of the pre­lim­i­nary round of the Caf Cham­pi­ons League, and the Buc­ca­neers have a com­fort­able lead of 5-1 go­ing in to Sey­chelles.

“If you want to be suc­cess­ful in the con­ti­nent you need to un­der­stand the com­pe­ti­tion’s dy­nam­ics holis­ti­cally. You need to un­der­stand the away goal rule, the coun­try you will be vis­it­ing, ho­tel you will be stay­ing in and grounds you will be play­ing in be­cause that’s where the game be­gins.

“Psy­cho­log­i­cally you have to be strong. In Africa you don’t get the same treat­ment that you nor­mally get when you land at King Shaka Air­port for ex­am­ple. You are an or­di­nary team when you are away,” Moloi ex­plained.

Pi­rates will be look­ing to con­tinue where they left off at Or­lando Sta­dium last week and pick up enough mo­men­tum against Lights­tars to go in to the fi­nal of the Telkom Knock­out against Baroka FC with con­fi­dence.

“You need to be a united front. You must win your bat­tles off the field of play. If you can do that and then half of the job is done. The coaches will do their home­work in terms of the op­po­nents.

“You en­counter a lot of chal­lenges in these coun­tries. It is hos­tile, the pitches are bumpy and the grass is heavy, but you must pre­pare your play­ers for such con­di­tions. They must go there know­ing ex­actly what they will face.

“We were for­tu­nate to have Bernard Lushozi and Ed­ward Mot­ley when we win in 1995. They will just tell you that we can’t be in­tim­i­dated by Nige­ri­ans be­cause we are from Soweto. In Africa you need such char­ac­ters,” he added.

Pi­rates’ con­fi­dence comes from the fact that they are on a roll. They are cur­rently en­joy­ing 12 game win­ning streak.

“When we reached the semi­fi­nals un­der Mi­cho (Mi­lutin Sre­do­je­vic) in 2006 we had a lot of play­ers who had con­ti­nen­tal ex­pe­ri­ence. We had play­ers who were play­ing in the ju­nior ranks with their re­spec­tive teams and those that were play­ing for Bafana Bafana. That re­ally helped us to go far.

“Play­ers were fa­mil­iar with the con­di­tions in Africa. You need that to be suc­cess­ful.

“It is much bet­ter now be­cause most of the games in the group stages are shown on tele­vi­sion,” Moloi elab­o­rated.

Pi­rates are set for a busy month of De­cem­ber be­cause the first round of the Caf Cham­pi­ons League will start next week. If they win in the first round they will ad­vance in to the group stages.

“In Africa you up against your op­po­nents, their own sup­port­ers and the ref­eree but you must ig­nore the of­fi­ci­at­ing. If you swear and have a go at the ref­er­ees you will get a red card and that is a plus to the op­po­nent. You need calm­ness to face such sit­u­a­tions be­cause those small mo­ments can de­cide the game. “Moloi con­cluded.

Pic­ture: Aubrey Kgakatsi BackpagePix

NO SLOW­ING DOWN: Paseka Mako of Or­lando Pi­rates (right) is chal­lenged by Lemiel Fabio of Lights­tars FC dur­ing their Cham­pi­ons League 2018/19 match last week.

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