Be brave Buccaneers!

CAF Champions League

Pirates face off with ‘The Red Devils’ at the New Suez Stadium this evening (20h30) carrying a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

The Confederation Cup, formed in 2004 might be CAF’s second-tier competition but the prestige of winning it still carries great weight and the Buccaneers will need to call on all their continental experience tonight if they are to write a new chapter in their history.

They need to show the same bravery and self-belief that has carried them through since they started out against Uganda Revenue Authority back in March.

They scored in Uganda, and they have continued to score in all their away matches, against CF Mounana, AS Kaloum, AC Leopards, CS Sfaxien and Zamalek. Do that again tonight, and Pirates’ will strengthen their chances of going through – especially if they score first.

An away goal could be vital against never-say-die Egyptians – witness the brave effort of Zamalek last night, when they scored three times against an Etoile Sahel who surely felt they had done enough in their 5-1 first leg home victory, but ultimately scraped into the Final.

If Bucs score first and maintain discipline at the back then they should be guaranteed a warm welcome when they land at OR Tambo Airport on Tuesday afternoon.

What is encouraging is that besides a win, any draw or any defeat by a one-goal margin with both teams scoring will favour Ezimnyama Ngenkani.

The same kind of courage Pirates showed in that group match against Sfaxien away in Tunisia at the end of July is what they require in Cairo tonight.

Felipe Ovono should know that this is the time when he needs to show the experience gained from playing for Equatorial Guinea.

Reliable defender Happy Jele needs to know this stage is set for him to prove just how far he has come; the skinny boy from Middelburg needs to be the man that leads Pirates’ battle cry in Africa.

Thabo Matlaba needs to be aware that tactical discipline is all-important against well-drilled opponents who thrive on finding spaces left by over-adventurous wing-backs.

Veteran defender Rooi Mahamutsa needs to be on the field what that C63 Mercedes Benz monster he drives is on the road, intimidating and very much commanding in performance.

Thandani Ntshumayelo might not measure up height-wise but if he shows the fight of a tiger he has the key to lock up the midfield and protect the back four. Alongside him, the spirited Issa Sarr is back to give the bite, the fight, the passion, and the attitude that is not always appreciated in the stands but that always makes the difference on the field.

Mpho Makola needs to show us that he is not chewing gum; prove that ‘form is temporary and class permanent’. For all that he has done in recent months and weeks – providing width down the flanks along with the ability to cut in and score goals, not just ordinary goals but memorable ones that are treasured – this is the time to do it again and put a lasting stamp.

On the other flank Sifiso Myeni should be aware by now that fancy is considered luxury at this level and ‘kasi’ skills should be reserved for games against weaker local opponents.

And that crucial away goal? South Africa looks to the ‘little and large’ partnership of Thamsanqa Gabuza and Kermit Erasmus; failing that, perhaps an inspirational super-sub turn from Thabo Rakhale.

Come on Buccaneers – be brave. South Africa needs you!