- Pule has his eyes set on Champions League qualification
- The winger has advised his teammates to ensure constituency
- Bucs are fourth on the table after three straight league victories
WHAT HAPPENED? Pule appears to have thrown in the towel in regards to challenging for the PSL title and has now turned his focus to qualifying for the Caf Champions League next season.
Pirates are 22 points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns but even with two matches in hand over the Brazilians, the PSL crown looks out of reach given Masandawana’s great form that has seen them put together a 14-match winning run.
That has forced the Sea Robbers to revise their targets for the season with qualifying for the Champions League now a must, especially after missing out on continental football altogether in the current campaign, following a sixth-place finish in 2021-22.
Jose Riveiro’s charges are currently on a good run of form after three straight league wins that leave them fourth on the table on 28 points from 18 matches, three behind second-placed Richards Bay, who occupy the final qualifying spot for the Champions League.
Pirates came close to winning a continental title when they reached the final of last season’s Caf Confederation Cup before losing on post-match penalties to RS Berkane of Morocco, and Pule is keen to ensure they remain consistent and a seal a place in the top tier competition.
WHAT DID HE SAY? “At the moment, we have to make sure we become consistent and take one game at a time,” Pule told SowetanLIVE.
“Consistency is very vital at this time we want to gain more momentum. As a team, we want to play in the Champions League next season. We want to make sure that we go there. We are running our own race and we’re not focused on what other teams are doing.
“I have been in and out of the team because of niggling injuries. I really don’t want to put pressure on myself but my individual goal is to remain fit and play as much as I can.
“I know if I can be fit, I can be able to help score goals and assist my teammates to score. That would help the team achieve the targets that were set at the start of the season.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Qualifying for the Champions League will, however, not be easy for Pirates given they face competition from up to six teams who can finish second.
Richards Bay (31 points), SuperSport United (29 points) while Sekhukhune United, Chippa United and Kaizer Chiefs, all on 24, are also hoping to close in with AmaZulu and Cape Town City, a point adrift, still in with a chance.
WHAT’S NEXT? Pirates can make a great statement of intent with victory over Sundowns in their next match on February 4.