Orlando Pirates will play Friday’s CAF Confederation Cup final in Nigeria bargaining on support from the host nation following revelations that tickets have been available for free as Super Eagles defender Olisa Ndah returns home.
Pirates will be up against RS Berkane in the decider at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Friday (21h00).
With this contest being played in Sub-Saharan Africa, Pirates will be hoping the majority of those in the 30 000-seater will be backing them as they will feature Ndah who played for local club Akwa United before joining Pirates at the beginning of the season.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Deacon Udom Gabriel Emmanuel is reported to have already agreed to meet the costs of tickets to ensure that the locals attend in numbers.
The tickets are due to be picked up at designated points on Wednesday and Thursday.
"We’re quite happy because it is a neutral venue. If the final was in Morocco, it would be a different story but we’re quite happy," says Fadlu Davids, the Pirates co-coach.
"I urge the Nigerian fans to come and support us. Their prodigal son, Ndah, returns to their stadium. We’re playing at Akwa’s United where he won the league before joining Pirates.
"We hope the Nigerians will get behind us in this stadium and we have that extra 12th man in the stadium so a neutral venue could become our home ground," he says adding his voice on the journey that they have had in this competition.
The Bucs started off with a trip to Congo and have since been to Liberia, Libya (twice), Algeria, and Tanzania and also played against opposition from Eswatini.
"Our journey has been a good experience travelling to different parts of Africa with some players experiencing it for the first time while some have been part of this for the past four years.
"Those experiences have helped in relation to those players having been there and done that.
"It wasn’t easy. Difficult trips and a strong mentality are required from the players to get to this stage. You have to give credit to them because it has been an up and down roller coaster.
"You can talk about the CAF journey and say it has been a success but in between, there were league matches that make you doubt certain processes in terms of building the team.
"Sometimes you win three in a row, and you don’t jump a spot in the league because you are playing in three different competitions so to be able to really focus when it comes to the CAF the players were able to be mentally strong.
"It is more a mental game than physical and tactical. How we are able to control our emotions in this final will help us a big amount in relation to us lifting the trophy," says Davids.