Following the club’s heroics against Al Ahly in the Caf Champions League, the Buccaneers returned home to be beaten in their Absa Premiership opener against AmaZulu, but redeemed themselves on Sunday by eliminating SuperSport United in the MTN8 quarterfinals.
That penalty shootout victory in Mbombela booked them a spot in the semifinals of the lucrative tournament and there were screams and sighs yesterday when Pirates were drawn to face Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs over two legs of the semis.
It’s another tough hurdle for De Sa next week as he continues to try and win over the club’s die-hards.
Pirates’ good run in the Champions League has only managed to buy De Sa more time at the club as far as the fans are concerned.
“People are entitled to their own opinions. I’ve got a three-year contract and I’m here to honour it and do the best I can,” said De Sa. “I have meetings every week to discuss how the team is doing. I believe I’m doing the best I can with the players that I have and will continue to do so, despite the pressure.
“What has just happened now [the draw] is just adding two more games against Chiefs to the calendar and people love it.”
The coach revealed that he has taken criticism in his stride after his first season with the club.
“I focus on my job, I don’t read papers or watch too much TV. That is my different attitude towards the pressure at a club this big. I work well with my coaching staff and the players. It’s not a popularity contest,” said De Sa.
Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter said he would have to put on a different thinking cap as he leads Amakhosi into a two-legged semifinal for the first time since his arrival.
“You can’t just go all out in two games. You’re thinking maybe in the first leg, if it’s at home, it is important not to concede,” he said.
“Then in the second match you are playing off the previous result a little bit.”
There’s almost no home advantage for either side as FNB Stadium looks the likely venue.
Meanwhile, in the other semifinal, Platinum Stars host BidVest Wits, with the first legs scheduled for August 20 and 21 and the return matches on the weekend of August 24 and 25, respectively.