Friday Aug 23, 2019. 08:30
Orlando Pirates’ stuttering start to the new season could take a nose-dive if they are ousted from the CAF Champions League by Zambian side Green Eagles at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, this is perhaps the biggest audition possible for caretaker boss Rhulani Mokwena as he seeks to get the team into the next round.
Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza has made it no secret he wants to see the team repeat their 1995 triumph in this competition and has backed up the coaching staff with a big outlay on players and the technical team.
The loss of former coach Micho Sredojevic to Zamalek was a hammer-blow, and the side have now gone scoreless in four matches, including the first leg of this tie in Lusaka.
But a confident win can turn the tables and Mokwena understands all too well the importance of putting in a strong performance.
“We have to win this one, we have to overturn the 1-0 deficit we suffered away in Lusaka,” he said. “It will be interesting to see what they go with, if it will still be the 4-4-2 formation. Will they still keep [Tapson] Kasebe upfront with [Kennedy] Musonda? Will they still go aggressively with the full backs?
“Either way we will be adequately prepared for them. We will analyse the first leg and see where we went wrong and what needs to be done to rectify our mistakes.”
Mokwena wants his side to make their home a fortress, and to make a statement to the rest of Africa that Pirates are contenders this year.
“They are coming to Orlando, it’s not an easy place to be and The Ghost will be there in numbers to inspire our boys to pick up their performance and overturn the result.
“We are very bullish about that, we know what the Champions League means to the club, to our supporters and the chairman, and we all know what we need to do in the second leg.
“We carry the responsibility and accept that the performance was not good enough in Zambia. We know that we have to make amends at Orlando, and we will because that is our home.
“It’s important that when they come here they feel that they have come in for disappointment. It won’t be easy for them.”