Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer says they won’t be bearing Christmas gifts when they visit Angolan-based side G.D. Sagrada Esperança this afternoon, instead their target is to return home with a positive result.
JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer says they won’t be bearing Christmas gifts when they visit Angolan-based side G.D. Sagrada Esperança on Tuesday afternoon, instead their target is to return home with a positive result.
After a third-place finish on the DStv Premiership standings last term, the Buccaneers qualified for the CAF Confederation Cup this season. This was a third successive qualification for continental football after the back-to-back qualifications for the Champions League.
After getting a bye in the first round of the preliminary qualifiers, Pirates will begin their continental journey on Tuesday (4pm kick-off) at Estádio dos Coqueiros where they’ll tussle for three points against Angolans Esperanca.
Should they win this encounter, the South Africans would have taken a gigantic step into qualifying for the group stage ahead of the second leg that will be hosted at home early next year. But Zinnbauer knows that won’t be easy for his players considering “the time of the year”.
“We have a special time. It’s a trip close to Christmas. It won’t be easy for the players, maybe they want to be with their families and need to get a lot of gifts for them. But they are professional football players and have their full concentration on this game,” Zinnbauer said.
This will be Zinnbauer’s first match as Pirates coach on the continent. But despite the amateur tag, the German has vowed that his team won’t be Father Christmas for the Angolans.
“It’s a long trip for us. it’s not easy for the club, there’s too much going on. But we have to fight for a point and more,” he said. “We are happy to play in CAF now. Yes, it’s Christmas time but we have no gifts for the opponents. We have to fight for points.”
After the Angolan Premiership was prematurely called off due to the novel coronavirus, Esperanca finished fifth on the standings. But their qualification for the Pan-African competition came after qualifying for the semi-finals of Angolan Cup against InterClube, where they led 3-1 in the first leg.
But with Bravos do Maquis, who had already booked their spot in the final, having qualified for the Confederation Cup after finishing third on the standings, it was a toss-up between Esperanca and InterClube as to who would assume the other continental spot. But the latter withdrew, allowing Esperanca to fill in the void.
Football is yet to resume in Angola making it tough for the MTN8 champions to analyse the Angolans, something Zinnbauer is aware of but he is prepared for the challenge a s best he can.
“Esperanca have a strong and good team,” Zinnbauer said.