Plateau United captain Elisha Golbe insists his teammates will not be intimidated by the prospect of playing before an expected 30,000 Simba fans in the second leg of their Champions League preliminary round on Saturday.
United, who are in the competition for only the second time in their history, trail the Tanzanian champions after Cleotus Chama’s winner gave Sven Vandenbroeck’s side who had been under the cosh for most of the encounter, a 1-0 win in the first leg at the New Jos Stadium last Saturday.
While CAF directed all Champions League and Confederation Cup games be played behind closed doors, Simba who have allowed crowds for their league games, applied for and received approval to utilise up to fifty percent of the 60,000 Benjamin Nkapa Stadium for the tie against Plateau United.
The presence of 30,000 baying fans in the stands willing Simba to victory over the Nigerians casts a different complexion on the tie and significantly increases the difficulty level of what was already a daunting challenge.
But Golbe says the atmosphere holds no fear for Abdu Maikaba’s team and insists his teammates, who he says have ample experience of playing in front of hostile crowds, won’t be overawed by the occasion.
“In Plateau United we don’t have any small player that has never been in the continent, so I think with or without their fans we will remain focused,” Golbe told busybuddiesng.com.
“I know definitely their fans are going to cheer them up, but with or without their fans definitely we have to fight ourselves up and make sure we concentrate and play the best we can, because fans cannot go into the pitch and play for them.
“Football is a game of eleven players, so definitely their fans or whatsoever it’s just for us to remain focused and make sure that we give out the best that we can.”
Having lost the first leg at home, not many will be optimistic about Plateau United’s chances of navigating past the seasoned continental campaigners who reached the quarterfinals two seasons ago, are unbeaten in five matches in all competitions and haven’t lost at home in the Champions League in seven years.
Golbe, however, attributes the first leg loss to Plateau United not knowing much about their opponents at the time.
The Plateau United captain believes the return leg presents an entirely different proposition now his side have gotten a measure of their opponents and says they understand the tactical adjustments needed to ensure they leave Tanzania having secured a place in the next round.
“Yeah we played them here in Jos, because we never knew them, we’d never watched their matches, but playing them here in Jos, I think definitely there is need for adjustment, and there is need for tactical play.
“Definitely, our approach has to change come Saturday, that’s our approach towards the game, because I earlier mentioned that this is an opponent that we don’t know them, we’ve never played them, and we don’t even have information about the team.
“But at least from now we know how they play the game, we know their weak points, we know where their strength is, so I think with that our coaches are working tirelessly to make sure that we curtail them come Saturday in Tanzania.
“So, by the special grace of God, with the training we’re undergoing I think by God’s grace we’ll give our very best in Tanzania and make sure that we convert all our chances come Saturday.”
Simba vs Plateau United kicks off at 3pm Nigerian time at Benjamin Nkapa Stadium, Dar es Salaam.