Orlando Pirates skipper Happy Jele wants to use the club’s group stage exit from the Caf Champions League to motivate them to finish the league season strongly.
Jele feels that Pirates are the type of club who deserve to be playing at the highest level of continental football and hopes that this season’s experience will inspire the team to ensure they finish in the top two and secure a return.
Pirates have thrown their weight behind Sundowns bid to bring the Champions League back to South Africa even as they prepare to face their title rivals in a crucial PSL engagement.
Speaking after training this week Jele said: “For us we must now forget about the hurt we experienced in Conakry and focus on motivating the guys because we are all disappointed that we didn’t qualify to the next round of the Champions League.
“Pirates is a big club and it deserves to be in the Champions League every year and we want to be there again next year.
“We know that for that to happen we must perform better this season domestically by either winning the league or finishing second.
“Losing to Horoya away from home in our last game was just one of those games that we did everything but lost and it was not nice.
“We committed some mistakes which they punished and we had a few chances that we did not convert. We can’t continue missing out on the play-offs.
“We must put the Champions League disappointment behind us and change our mindset to the league so that we get the necessary points in the remaining matches that will allow us to get back to the tournament next year.”
Jele feels that the younger members of Pirates squad will have learned a tremendous amount from the challenges the Caf Champions League throws at you.
“Playing in the Caf Champions League was a learning curve for us and especially the guys who never played on the continent before‚” he said.
“Personally I am used to the challenges of playing on the continent.
“But some of the players have never been there before to experience the challenges of travelling 15 to 16 hours before the game and the sometimes unfair treatment you experience when you are away from home.
“But now they have experienced it and I saw even when we played the last game of the competition that they know how to play in this tournament.
“I am glad that we learned but the main thing is to focus on the league now so that we end the season on a better position that will take us back there to compete again.”
Pirates face Sundowns on Monday night knowing a win over the Brazilians will see them move ahead of their rivals on the PSL log on goal difference.