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Bucs must be strong – Moloi

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Pirates will be looking to continue where they left off at Orlando Stadium last week and pick up enough momentum against Lightstars

NO SLOWING DOWN: Paseka Mako of Orlando Pirates (right) is challenged by Lemiel Fabio of Lightstars FC during their Champions League 2018/19 match last week. Picture: Aubrey Kgakatsi BackpagePix

Former player and Orlando Pirates assistant coach, Teboho Moloi knows all about competing in the Caf Champions League and believes that mental strength will be key for the Buccaneers in their pursuit of continental glory.

Moloi was a member of the Orlando Pirates team that lifted the Caf Champions League in 1995. He was also on the bench when Pirates lost to Al Ahly in the Champions League final back in 2013. Back then Moloi was Roger De Sa’s deputy. He was also assisting Eric Tinkler when Pirates were beaten by Etolie du Sahel in the final of the Caf Confederation Cup.

Now Pirates will face Lightstars of Seychelles today in the second leg of the preliminary round of the Caf Champions League, and the Buccaneers have a comfortable lead of 5-1 going in to Seychelles.

“If you want to be successful in the continent you need to understand the competition’s dynamics holistically. You need to understand the away goal rule, the country you will be visiting, hotel you will be staying in and grounds you will be playing in because that’s where the game begins.

“Psychologically you have to be strong. In Africa you don’t get the same treatment that you normally get when you land at King Shaka Airport for example. You are an ordinary team when you are away,” Moloi explained.

Pirates will be looking to continue where they left off at Orlando Stadium last week and pick up enough momentum against Lightstars to go in to the final of the Telkom Knockout against Baroka FC with confidence.

“You need to be a united front. You must win your battles off the field of play. If you can do that and then half of the job is done. The coaches will do their homework in terms of the opponents.

“You encounter a lot of challenges in these countries. It is hostile, the pitches are bumpy and the grass is heavy, but you must prepare your players for such conditions. They must go there knowing exactly what they will face.

“We were fortunate to have Bernard Lushozi and Edward Motley when we win in 1995. They will just tell you that we can’t be intimidated by Nigerians because we are from Soweto. In Africa you need such characters,” he added.

Pirates’ confidence comes from the fact that they are on a roll. They are currently enjoying 12 game winning streak.

“When we reached the semi-finals under Micho (Milutin Sredojevic) in 2006 we had a lot of players who had continental experience. We had players who were playing in the junior ranks with their respective teams and those that were playing for Bafana Bafana. That really helped us to go far.

“Players were familiar with the conditions in Africa. You need that to be successful.

“It is much better now because most of the games in the group stages are shown on television,” Moloi elaborated.

Pirates are set for a busy month of December because the first round of the Caf Champions League will start next week. If they win in the first round they will advance in to the group stages.

“In Africa you up against your opponents, their own supporters and the referee but you must ignore the officiating. If you swear and have a go at the referees you will get a red card and that is a plus to the opponent. You need calmness to face such situations because those small moments can decide the game. “ Moloi concluded.