Orlando Pirates legend Edward Motale is calling for a massive welcome back home for the Buccaneers players when they land at OR Tambo international airport on Wednesday morning.
Eric Tinkler and his charges come back from Tunisia following a 2-1 aggregate loss to Etoile du Sahel in the Caf Confederation Cup final over the weekend. The teams played to a 1-1 draw a week ago at Orlando Stadium, while Etoile made the most of home ground advantage by winning the match 1-0 at the Olympic Stadium in Sousse on Sunday.
“They deserve to be welcomed home by a huge number of fans at the airport,” said Motale.
“People need to understand that what those boys did in this year’s Caf Confederation Cup competition is a big deal. They were not only representing Pirates, but the whole country. Not everyone can reach the final of a continental competition, but they did. So, I am urging every football fan to go there and give them a warm welcome back, especially Pirates supporters.”
“They have taken the team to a higher level, teams in Africa know about Pirates. And that is all because of their hard work and dedication in this tournament.”
“They were just unfortunate on Sunday to have lost that game. Just a minor mistake from Happy Jele that led to the first goal turned everything around for them. But it was a mistake, people need to know that and anyone can do it. Let us look beyond the result and look at where they have placed South African football.”
The team has now failed to win a continental competition after coming close twice in three years, having also reached the Caf Champions league final in 2013.
Back then they lost 3-1 on aggregate to Al Ahly, and talk is of the team failing to rise to the occasion when it matters most. But, Motale is positive that this is the team that will take Pirates to the highest level.
“I believe in that team and other people should start doing that too. Sure they have lost two major finals, but it is all about growth. I think with the experience they have gathered now, they will next time go into such finals knowing exactly what to do.”
“You know people will always talk, let us stop being negative and start being positive. What they have achieved is major. I have been there, I know what it takes to reach a final of that magnitude and it is not as easy everyone might think,” Motale concluded.
The team is expected to land at the airport by 10:50am.