Rhulani Mokwena says he understands what the Caf Champions League means to Orlando Pirates Football Club as they aim to overcome a first-leg deficit and stay alive in the preliminary stages of the competition.

The Buccaneers were stunned 1-0 in the away leg at Zambia’s Green Eagles. There has been a whole lot of drama since that defeat with head coach Milutin Sredojevic stepping down from his position.

It has left Mokwena to pick up the pieces at a time when the club is going through a mini-crisis and he acknowledges that a lot will be on the line come Friday.

Sredojevic was still in charge during the 1-0 loss in Lusaka and a subsequent league loss, before resigning.

Pirates were also beaten at the first hurdle in the first cup competition of the domestic season.

Mokwena, though, is adamant they can bounce back and is hopeful of a much better display by South Africa’s former continental club champions.

Mokwena, who is currently in charge on an interim basis as the club mulls over who should permanently replace Sredojevic, is also confident that the Soweto side can make home advantage count in a big way against the Eagles.

They have a stellar record from recent years on their home turf, where they are unbeaten in 13 Champions League games dating back to 2012. Six of those games have been wins, while the other seven have been draws.

Mokwena says their 12th man – the fans of the Buccaneers – can make a massive difference come Friday.

– Report by Thahir Asmal