Monday, 21 October 2013

Orlando Pirates: Official statement from chairman Dr Irvin Khoza on reaching the African Champions League final

In the chair: Dr Irvin Khoza

Dr Irvin Khoza has just released the statement below after his Orlando Pirates returned home from Tunisia today, having qualified for the final of the African Champions League for the first time since they became the first South African side to win the tournament in 1995.

It's fascinating and brilliantly written. Too often we have wondered about his role in the crusade which has ranged from the Comores and Zambia, via a torrid to trip to the DRC and group games in the Congo and Egypt, twice.

I guess now we know. He DOES retain a healthy interest in his Sea Robbers. He has input. And he tells it well. How about this: "To the team I say, be conscious for consciousness is as important as competence."

And as his side reached the final on the back of two defeats and three successive draws, the Doctor accepts:  "Our journey to the final can hardly be referred to as a juggernaut."

Khoza also reveals he has ‘imvuselelo’, chats with the lads, where he tells them to work on body language and focus on history.

As his Buccaneers prepare for their home and away final against seven-time champions Al Ahly on November 2 (Orlando) and 9 (Egypt), he ends with: "The success of Orlando Pirates is not for the Buccaneers alone. It is for our nation and region."

Here's the statement in full:

There has been a conversation within Orlando Pirates Football Club that I believe it is now the right time to share with the nation.

I have visited with the team from time to time to do ‘imvuselelo’ – to continue a conversation to make sure that all our energies and efforts work in concert towards a common goal. After qualifying for the semi-final, I wrote a letter to the technical team and each of our players. I deemed it important that they knew, from me, that their success was witnessed. It can be soul destroying to have unwitnessed achievements.

In this letter I tell every member of the team that we are on a path of history. I recall that they survived what commentators termed the ‘group of death’ – that many could not see us through the two Egyptian giants. I commended the players for being conscious on the ball, off the ball and when the ball was in transit. I commented specifically about their body language. I shared with them my observation that their body language meant business and that they played for each other.

I reminded the team that we had unfinished business in Tunisia – that in Tunis, in 2006, against CS Sfaxien that we lost in the semi-final. We had planned to play our Saturday match against Esperance in red. Unfortunately we were forced to use a combination of the black top with red pants and socks to avoid any clash of colours. It was after-all in Tunisia that we launched our red jersey in 2006.

I believe that it is time for me to let in the nation on the conversation. The outpouring of support and emotions by our nation cannot go unacknowledged. I am a proud South African who shares a country with compassionate fellow citizens. I am heartened by the media’s coverage in the SADC region where our brethren down South of Africa see Orlando Pirates’ step by step achievements, as their own.

Our journey to the final can hardly be referred to as a juggernaut. The devotion and sacrifice demanded to achieve a juggernaut was, however, consistently displayed by the Orlando Pirates team en-route to this all important final. Our team had to encounter a path with TP Mazembe, Zamalek, Al Ahly and Esperance who together have won the CAF Championship eighteen times.

The first leg of the final at Orlando Stadium on the 2nd of November will be the 15th game played by Orlando Pirates since the beginning of the competition. The team played a further nine games in the PSL, this notwithstanding the four ABSA Premiership games that had to be postponed.

A route to the final that included AC Leopards, the 2012 CAF Confederations Cup Champions; Zamalek , five-time CAF Champions League Champions; Al Ahly, the defending seven-time CAF Champions League Champions; and Esperance, two-time CAF Champions League winners is no mean achievement. This achievement talks to more. It talks to the competitive league that the PSL is.

Most of the teams that have dominated the CAF Champions League play in leagues that are two-horse races dominated by two teams always in contention for the top spot.

The PSL is highly competitive and hence not predictable. It is also punishing in its schedule that includes the ABSA Premiership and three cup competitions. I have to commend the Orlando Pirates players for not complaining, at any stage during this grueling contest. It is worth noting that when Zambia won the AFCON, most of its players were playing in the PSL.

The success of Orlando Pirates is not for the Buccaneers alone. It is for our nation and region. I pray that Orlando Pirates success in the Championship spur Bafana-Bafana to another AFCON win reminiscent of the 1996 success after Orlando Pirates triumphed in 1995.

To the team I say, be conscious for consciousness is as important as competence. This final will require that you are as aware as you are able; mindful as you are experienced, sensible as you are skilled, awake as you are fit. One attribute without the other will result in lapses that you now know you cannot afford at this level of the competition.

I would like to thank our South African Ambassador in Tunis. Thank you for creating a home away from home for our team.

Thank you to the media here at home and in the region. Your interest, confidence and support grew with the progress the team made in the Championship.


Dr Khoza's admission - that Orlando Pirates have not gone through the African Champions League like a juggernaut - is borne out by their road to the final (below, taken from the website).

Pirates horde: OR Tambo today (with thanks to OPFC)

Incredibly, including the stormy passage past DRC's TP Mazembe, the Buccaneers have played 10, won three, drawn four and lost three in the Champions League - and their last FIVE, reads NO wins, two defeats and three draws.

But that won't bother Dr Khoza or Roger de Star as he is now known. With their national league suspended Al Ahly are an aging side with star players aiming to retire after the final. Pirates beat them 3-0 at Al Gouna before the nail-biting 0-0 draw to finish the Group A.

Pirates returned amid tumultuous scenes at OR Tambo yesterday with Roger breaking his silence after the tense semi-final draw in Esperance: "We've got a Telkom Cup match with Golden Arrows on Wednesday night so we're going straight in to camp, we'll just carry on doing our thing.

"Esperance was tough, the crowd were intimidating and there were lasers everywhere. Testing conditions. But we were outstanding, my players were fantastic.

“It’s been a wonderful turn-out at the airport today. I want to thank the fans, the minister & the MEC, and all the media gathered today."

Journey to Final
Preliminary Round
Orlando Pirates 5-0 Djabal
Djabal 0-4 Orlando Pirates
(Aggregate: 9-0 to Pirates)

1/16th Round
Zanaco 0-1 Orlando Pirates
Orlando Pirates 2-1 Zanaco
(Aggregate: 3-1 to Pirates)

1/8th Round
Orlando Pirates 3-1 TP Mazembe
TP Mazembe 1-0 Orlando Pirates
(Aggregate: 3-2 to Pirates)

Group Stages
Gameweek 1 : Orlando Pirates 0-0 AC Leopards
Gameweek 2: Al Ahly 0-3 Orlando Pirates
Gameweek 3: Orlando Pirates 4-1 Zamalek
Gameweek 4: Zamalek 2-1 Orlando Pirates
Gameweek 5: AC Leopards 1-0 Orlando Pirates
Gameweek 6: Orlando Pirates 0-0 Al Ahly

Orlando Pirates 0-0 Esperance TP
Esperance TP 1-1 Orlando Pirates
(Aggregate: 1-1 Pirates win on away goals rule)

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1 comment:

  1. As a Sundowns fan and a man who hates Ivin Khoza, I got to say this is powerful. Mr Khoza is what every other chairman/owner should be.