Orlando Pirates defender Thabiso Monyane says his team will be looking to make history by becoming the first South African team to win the CAF Confederation Cup in its current form. The Buccaneers will lock horns with the 2020 Champions, RSB Berkane from Morocco, in the final in Uyo, Nigeria, on Friday.
Pirates have reached their fourth continental final in the CAF inter-club competitions since re-admission in 1992. They have reached the Champions League final twice, winning it in 1995, beating Asec Mimosa from Ivory Coast and losing in the final against Egyptian giants Al Ahly in 2013.
They also reached the Confederation Cup final in 2015, when they lost to Tunisian giants Étoile Sportive du Sahel. Kaizer Chiefs won the African Cup Winners’ Cup, popularly known as the Mandela Cup in 2001.
It merged with the CAF Cup to become the Confederation Cup in 2004. Monyane says they are looking forward to making history on Friday evening.
“Firstly the mood in the camp is very great, everyone is happy to go to Nigeria, it’s a chance for us to make history and it’s always good to be part of history. We are really happy, we are one step closer and we want to go all the way. It’s really important because this club is known for making history, so we are looking forward to making that possible”
The final will be played in a neutral venue in Nigeria. Pirates will be counting on their Nigerian international, Olisah Ndah, to give them insight about the conditions and other crucial information.
Monyane is also hoping that the Nigerian fans will come out to support their compatriots and boost Pirates’ fortunes.
“He does tell us that this is ‘how the climate is like, this is how the weather conditions are like,’ so, that’s also helpful. We really appreciate that and I feel like that’s’ also going to help us going forward especially when he is playing here. I feel like he has got a lot of supporters that will come here and support him in Nigeria, that will also be a great benefit for us because he is a Orlando Pirates player so that’s a great thing for us.”
Pirates striker Gabadinho Mhango is rumoured to be leaving the club at the end of the season. He says they are looking to finish what they have started, and win the competition.
“It’s a great feeling because the final comes only once in a year, to be in the final is the moment everyone was looking for, it’s something we spoke about before the confederation but now we are in the final. So, we have to finish what we have started.”
☠️ ⏳️ 𝟱 𝗗𝗔𝗬𝗦 𝗧𝗢 𝗚𝗢 ⏳️
— Orlando Pirates FC (@orlandopirates) May 16, 2022
No silverware yet
Pirates have not won any silverware this season. Midfielder Collins Makgaga says it will be vital for them and their supporters to win a trophy this season.
“It’s very important as a club when we have assessed a season, we have plans and goals that we want to see ourselves winning trophies, it’s important to win trophies as a club, as a country also we are being recognised as South Africa.”
Defender Paseka Mako has resumed training after he was badly injured in a collision with his teammate Richard Ofori in a match against Baroka FC in Polokwane last month. He says he is feeling better every day.
“I’m getting better, I am happy and recovering well. I am training now, I am feeling much better. For me, it was very difficult and I didn’t feel anything after that, I was taken to the hospital when I woke up I was asking people, ‘What I am doing here? It was a very bad injury for me.”
Mako played an instrumental role in the earlier rounds in helping his team to reach the final. He is confident that they are going to win the cup.
“For me it’s simple, we are going to win this final. Yesterday I was watching TP Mazembe and RSB Berkane and that’s why I am so confident about that.”
Run for Oceans initiative
On Monday, Pirates’ first team fringe players and their reserve side were in Tembisa in the Ekurhuleni, as part of the Run for Oceans initiative.
The players were involved in a cleanup campaign to encourage the local community to stop littering.
“You might think, okay we are in Tembisa, we are at a river, how does that affect the oceans, and obviously anything that runs or lands into rivers actually ends up in the oceans. We actually want to raise awareness with the team around why people should not litter so close to the rivers, why they need to end plastic waste, by reducing the amount of plastic waste that they use in their own lives and just to keep the community clean,” says club’s technical sponsor Laren Haakman.