Sunday, 4 August 2013

HISTORICAL, HYSTERICAL: Orlando Pirates 3 (three, drie, trois, drei), El Ahly 0 (niks, nothing, nada, zilch)

Walking the plank: El Ahly goalkeeper Ekramy in Al-Gouna yesterday

القراصنة ثلاثة أهداف، "الأهلي لا شيء

I am reliably informed the sentence above is Arabic for “Orlando Pirates three goals, El Ahly NONE.”

And really, despite a fascinating start to our own Professional Soccer League, that is THE story of the weekend. Egyptian giants El Ahly hadn’t failed to score a goal at home since 2004. But Roger de Sa’s continental crushers gave them the kind of beating we won’t forget for a long, long time.

An opening goal from Thandani Ntshumayelo after an astonishing interchange with Collins Mbesuma made it 1-0 after 18 minutes, then came an incredible THIRD successive African Champions League penalty save from Senzo Meyiwa from Waleed Soliman in the 38th minute.

Just before half-time, the Algerian referee sent off Ahmed Abdul Zaher for dissent as he howled about yet another crunching Pirates tackle – and El Ahly, the defending African champions and three-time winners, never really recovered.

The second half belonged to Andile Jali. First he converted a 73rd minute penalty after Fathy (pronounced Farty) had felled Daine Klate, then – two minutes later – the Bafana reject produced a delightful little scooped pass to put Sifiso Myeni away for the third goal.

And that was it. In front of a windy, empty stadium at El Gouna on the Red Sea coast, the Egyptians were simply flabbergasted by the Pirates defence – the ageless Lucky Lekgwathi (estimates put him at 37) saved one of the line and tackled with all the subtlety of a Pharoah’s tomb.

It was at half-time I sent the under-pressure Pirates coach De Sa my usual SMS. Ths one said: “YOU FYCKING BEAUTY! ROGER DE SA YOU ARE A LEGEND!” He replied with "Yeeeepeeee" (see screen grab of SMSes above).

After the match, Roger said: “Fantastic result but look, we’re not getting carried away, there’s still four games to go in the group.

“I’m very happy but now I have to make sure we stay grounded – and get positive results.”

So you can rave all you want about Kaizer Chiefs’ hard-earned 1-0 win over promoted Mpumalanga Black Aces on Friday night. Clive Barker’s Dogs weren’t a million miles from humbling Stuart Baxter’s double-winning Gods in the PSL’s opening salvo.

And we can praise Cavin Johnson’s SuperSport United – 4-1 winners over Steve Khompela’s Free State Stars on Saturday – or Pitso Mosimane’s Monyloadi Signdowns for their 3-1 at tricky Bloemfontein Celtic. Some might say both were aided by harsh red cards.

But nothing compares with Pirates’ epic victory in El-Gounah. They go top of Group A on goal difference from Congo champions AC Leopards, who saw off Zamalec 1-0 in Dolisie.

Egypt’s Red Devils’ hadn’t lost at home since Tunisia’s Etoile Sahel beat them 3-1 in Cairo to lift the Champions League trophy six years ago. The game was played in afternoon heat and a gusting wind – but nothing could stop De Sa’s Buccaneers.

That second star may not be as impossible as we once assumed. As I said on twitter, a 3-0 win in Egypt is like the Springboks triumping 60-0 in Wellington or the Proteas enjoying a six-wicket victory in Delhi. Unthinkable.

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  1. I really think u a tad over excited Neal. Sure it is a great achievement but all pirates have won are 3 points. It is in no way an indication that they are favourites or contenders for that ACL title. Not yet at least. Furthermore you go on to compare a club feat to a national team one whereby you refer to the current world champions (new zealand and india). I dont think Egypt or Al-Ahly qualify as world champions by any means. Indeed African football at national level is being surpassed by Asian football not to mention the traditional power base of europe and south america. So unless Pirates beat the likes of Bayern, Barcelona or Madrid (or dare i omit Atletico Mineiro) such a comparison has no basis. Furthermore, Mr Collins your double standards in applying a tongue in cheek name to Sundowns is noted whilst I am sure you are aware of the massive sponsorship that Pirates and Chiefs enjoy from Vodacom. While Vodacom have every right to associate themselves with a football team that gives them the most mileage this deal in particular threatens to polarise the soweto giants from the rest of the PSL teams since these teams can in effect buy the cream of the crop in as much as Mr Motsepe's millions can do similar.
    I stand by my prediction that pirates wont even come close to winning the ACL and that this weekends reaction is no more than a rash of over excitedness by yourself and your legion of followers on twitter and your radio show.

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