That victory did more than give Makola his first taste of success, it ended what had been a disappointing season that promised a lot for Orlando Pirates on a good note after they lost in three cup finals.
It also booked the Buccaneers a place in last year’s CAF Confederation Cup, where Makola wanted to compete in having spent most of Pirates’ run in the 2013 CAF Champions League on the side-lines.
He was lucky to play a few minutes in that continental campaign. Luvuyo Memela, Edwin Gyimah and Tendai Ndoro weren’t as lucky, watching the Buccaneers reach the final of last year’s Confederation Cup on TV because they weren’t registered for the tournament.
It’s seeing their teammates play against giants like Al-Ahly, Zamalek, CS Sfaxien and Etoile du Sahel that pushed the trio to carry Pirates in the final stretch, taking the baton from those who struggled with the Confederation Cup hangover.
Makola knows the drive pushing the trio, with just 90 minutes standing between them and continental football. A place in next year’s Confederation Cup is up for grabs for the winners of the final at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday where Pirates will take on SuperSport United.
“The experience we got from the first Champions League, and gelling with the players who weren’t playing in it has helped us in our way of thinking, planning and the mentality as a whole,” Makola said.
“We said as a team (after losing in the final of the Confederation Cup) that we want to go back there. Gyimah, Memela and Ndoro also want to get a taste of that. They have been working hard to help the team return there so that they can feel what it’s like to play there. I know what that feels like because I was also in a similar position as them.
“I kept on working hard, did as much as I could in the domestic league and I told myself that whenever that opportunity comes for me to play in the continent I will do my best and make the most of it to cement a place on a permanent basis.”
The consistency Makola's form helped him finally get called up to Bafana Bafana, where he retained his place in the squad that will play against Gambia in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers next month. It might have taken a while, but now that he is in the national team set-up and tasted what it’s like to be a champion, the 30-year-old is making the most of it.
His coach, Eric Tinkler, has also had to wait for a long time to win a trophy as head coach, having won the Nedbank Cup in 2010 with Bidvest Wits and in 2014 with Pirates as the deputy.
”It would be great for the coach to lift the trophy,” Makola said. “He has brought a lot of positive changes into the team. If we win this trophy it would remove a heavy burden from his shoulders, hopefully he stays here next season.”
Original source: Makola looking to taste more success