It’s been a strange season for Orlando Pirates, who have underwhelmed in so many ways and yet still stand a chance of lifting silverware, in the form of the Caf Confederation Cup, following their quarterfinal victory over Simba SC of Tanzania on Sunday.
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Richard Ofori’s winning penalty and spectacular jig put the seal on a hard-fought win, meaning the Buccaneers can also look past the rather usavoury row that developed between them and the Tanzanians over the two legs.
For the most part, Simba SC have come out of the argument looking the more foolish, and not just because they lost.
Mandla Ncikazi had a good old rant about Pirates’ treatment in Tanzania, after the side had lost the first leg 1-0 in Dar Es Salaam. If much of it was justified, one might argue that a coach more wisened to the continental game would have just left it alone.
Teams being ill-treated on their travels, whether with less than ideal training facilities, or poor hotels, is dime-a-dozen in the continental game.
Bafana have long been sending out advance search parties to scout better facilities, and Sundowns have followed suit in the Caf Champions League. One would have thought a side like Pirates, well versed in Caf competitions, would have been more savvy.
Then again, the response to Ncikazi’s complaints from Simba SC was utterly ludicrous. Acting as if Ncikazi had committed some kind of act of treason against the nation of Tanzania, Simba CEO Barbara Gonzalez doubled up on the rant-factor.
“He (Ncikazi) wanted to soil the reputation of Simba and the country at large,” Gonzalez said, according to goal.com. Please!
Gonzalez also told Metro FM ahead of the second leg: “We have a fear for our lives when we come to South Africa.”
This after Ncikazi had specifically said Pirates would treat Simba with the respect they felt they did not get in Tanzania.
To make matters worse on match day, Simba then decided it would be a good idea to get in a huddle and burn some “muthi” in the middle of the pitch ahead of kick-off.
You can be as superstitious as you like, but this can only be interpreted as a slap right in the face of your hosts.
As it was, the “muthi” didn’t do Simba much good as they lost the match and eventually, in a penalty shoot out, were knocked out of the tournament.
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) may yet weigh in on the matter – Gonzalez said before the second-leg she would be issuing a complaint. But if they do, Caf will surely find far more reason to fault Gonzalez than anyone at Pirates.
Pirates, meanwhile, can prepare themselves for a semifinal against Al-Ahly Tripoli of Libya.
Domestically, they continue to flail far behind Mamelodi Sundowns, who are about to win another DStv Premiership title. In that sense, it has been a disappointing season for the Buccaneers, who are also out of the Nedbank Cup.
The jury is out on Fadlu Davids and Ncikazi, but if they can lead Pirates to continental glory, they might just stake a valid claim for another season at Pirates.