SA urged to rally behind Pirates

Thousands of supporters flooded OR Tambo International Airport to wish the team well.

Orlando Pirates supporters cheer during the African Champions League first leg final between South Africa's Orlando Pirates and Egypt's Al-Ahly in Soweto on November 2, 2013. Picture:AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula says Orlando Pirates has given South African football hope for the future.

The Buccaneers jetted off to Cairo on Wednesday night ahead of the second leg of the CAF Champions League finals against Egyptian side Al Ahly.

Mbalula addressed scores of fans who flooded the OR Tambo International Airport for the team's special send off.

"You can see that our people are thirsty for victory, especially football lovers."

Mbalula says it's been a long time since South African football has seen achievement of this magnitude.

"Since 1995 to date, Pirates have risen to the occasion to lift the spirit among the hopeless in South African football. They have earned their stripes to be here."

The minister thanked all those who took their time to show their support for the team. He also urged the country to rally behind Pirates as they represent the entire country.

Sunday's game begins at 6pm.