Eric Tinkler praises Pirates players' character
Posted: 27 September 2015 Time: 10:18
Orlando Pirates coach Eric Tinkler says his team showed strong character to beat Al Ahly last night.
Pirates beat the Egyptian giants 1-0 in their first-leg CAF Confederation Cup semi-final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday evening, thanks to a ninth minute Thamsanqa Gabuza goal.
The Bucs put in a gutsy performance to ensure an important victory at home - their first since 22 August and their first win in five matches in all competitions.
“I'm very happy for the boys because they showed character,” Tinkler says.
“It's not easy coming from the results we've been getting, to face a strong team such as Al Ahly, and put on a performance like that.”
Tinkler made six changes to the line-up that lost 4-1 to Zamalek in their final group game a fortnight ago.
He was forced to replace his captain and midfield general Oupa Manyisa due to injury, while Happy Jele and Siyabonga Sangweni were both suspended, but Tinkler says the depth of his squad means he had players ready to step in and deliver.
He reserved praise in particular for Thandani Ntshumayelo - who himself risked missing the match through injury - and Ayanda Gcaba.
“I'm very, very happy with the squad. In particular, Ntshumayelo – he’s come in and done a fantastic job.
“Ayanda also, I thought was brilliant. I really thought he was fantastic.
“They, along with [stand-in] captain Rooi Mahamutsa, had a fantastic performance. I think it was their experience of past [CAF matches] that got us through this.”
Etoile Sahel host Al Ahly's local rivals, Zamalek in the second semi-final, this evening.