Orlando Pirates travel to Tunisia next weekend to take on Esperance de Tunis in the second leg of the CAF Champions League for what is arguably their biggest game in nearly a decade.
Back in 2006 Pirates got to this stage of the competition and failed. This time, they’ll be hoping to get over the penultimate hurdle and make it to the finals.
Earlier this month, the Tunisians made the trip to Mzansi to play at Orlando Stadium in the first leg of the tie, where it was expected that there would be thousands upon thousands of South Africans cheering on their fellow countrymen.
However, this was not the case. I was at that game in Orlando and sat in disbelief as halftime came and went, more than half of the stadium empty, with a faithful few doing their best to rally their boys on to victory.
The CAF Champions League is a big deal. There’s a lot of pride at stake, the chance to call yourself the best in Africa and a decent chunk of money to be earned…
Lets be honest, regardless of who you support, Pirates have done Mzansi proud in this year’s tournament. They’ve battled their way to victories in Africa, overcoming the odds in Congo and teaching Al-Ahly a lesson on their own turf in Egypt. Surely they’ve earned our support?
I can’t understand how a glorified friendly such as the Carling Black Label Cup can attract a crowd of + 90,000 fans, yet the semifinals of the biggest tournament on the continent can only attract half a stadium… Pirates deserve home advantage, why did they not get it?
One thing is for sure… When the Buccaneers travel to Tunis next week they’ll see exactly what home advantage should look like. Yes, Tunisia may not be deepest, darkest Africa and no doubt they will be looked after properly while there, but when they get into that stadium they’re on their own.
The Stade Olympique de Rades houses 65,000 people and I have no doubt that every seat will have a bum on it by the time 8pm on October 19th comes along. That’s the way it should be.
Unfortunately, the moment to support Pirates in the semifinals has now passed, we had that chance last week. Now all we can do is keep the faith and believe in Roger de Sa’s men. Hopefully our support will be channelled to them in Tunisia because, let’s face it, there won’t be any Buccaneer fans cheering them on in the stadium.
Yours in football,
Follow me on Twitter: @YesWeCrann