Orlando Pirates geared for all competitions says coach Julio Leal
Posted: 13 February 2012 Time: 5:40 pm
Orlando Pirates coach Julio Leal believes his squad is prepared for the triple-barelled challenge staring them in the face, the CAF Champions League being the most highly desired piece of silverware they are chasing this year.
The colossal mission of conquering the continent sandwiches the task of retaining the League and Nedbank Cup titles on the domestic scene.
"We are not under any kind of pressure," insists Leal ahead of the long road ahead, which begins with a League fixture against Black Leopards at home on Wednesday, before they square off with Angolan club Recreativo de Libolo on Sunday in Port Elizabeth in the Champions League.
Leal must surely have reason to believe this, as his squad has been beefed up during the January transfer window with Luis Boa Morte, Sifisio Myeni, Thandani Ntshumayelo and Njabulo Manqana all joining.
"All the players that we have will be used in all competitions. We will not be having different teams for different competitions because to us all games that we will be playing are of equal importance starting with the game against Leopards that we are ready for.
"It is only the Champions League where we will not be able to use all players because not all the players are registered. However, I am happy with the squad from which I have to select my 18 players from for every game that we will be playing.
"All new players that have come in will add value because they are all quality, which makes for healthy competition in the team," says Leal.
The Brazilian says friendly matches against teams from Zambia and Angola have prepared them perfectly for the African safari.
"Regarding the Champions League we are ready. We have been able to use the long break to play against teams from Zambia and Angola which has helped with our preparations for the Champions League. The Reserve League has also provided us with good competition because all our players have been active," says Leal.
Meanwhile, Leal has rolled down the red carpet for the club's Zambian midfielder Isaac Chansa after Chipolopolo wrote a piece of history by winning the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations for the first time.
The Zambians needed a nerve-wracking penalty shoot-out to overcome favourites Cote d'Ivoire, a befitting honour for their squad that perished off the coast of Gabon in 1993.
Chansa was heavily involved in the game, in which Zambia showed absolutely no fear for their more-fancied opponents, capping off his performance by scoring in the shoot-out.
As the reality of Africa's new champions continues to sink in, Leal is already pleased that he has a continental champion in his dressing-room ahead of the club's African travels.
"I want to congratulate Zambia for showing that if you have the desire to win you can do it. For us we also pleased that one of our own Isaac Chansa was part of that squad that made history by winning the cup," says Leal.