After a successful battle through the group stages of the CAF Champions league, Orlando Pirates finally made it to the last stages of the tournament. Pirates, also known as The Sea Robbers, claimed the trophy in 1995 when they beat Asec Abidjan 1-0 and 3-2 aggregate. After 18 years, Bucs want to make history on Sunday when they face Egyptian giants, Al Ahly in Cairo at 17h30 South African time.
In their first leg of final which was held at Orlando Stadium, the match ended with a 1-1 draw putting the visitors, Al Ahly at a goal advantage. But Bucs beat Al Ahly in their group stages meet in Egypt in a match that was played in 45 degrees celsius sunny weather. The match was played away from Cairo due to political issues in the country. It was held behind closed doors.
This time things will be different, the game will be in Cairo with full home supporters. Al Ahly, who have a goal advantage, need a goal-less match or a clear win to lift the trophy for the 8th time whilst Bucs are hoping to win or get a 2-2 draw to bring the trophy home. Orlando Pirates will be without their two key players, Andile Jali and Happy Jele due to automatic suspension. Coach Roger De Sar will be forced to play troubled captain, Lucky Lekgwathi who was absent for about five matches, to replace Jele. De Sar is keeping his cool and urging supporters not to worry. “Yes Lekgwathi is included on the team but I cannot say if he will feature on Sunday or not because he lacks fitness,” De Sar said. “We will be at our best in Cairo and we need to score first as we are expecting them to play defensive,” he added.
The good performance from the 7 time champions, Al Ahly last week showed that they are ready to slaughter Bucs at home. Good striking force from veteran player, Mohamed Aboutrika showed confidence and encouragement to the club.
Back in South Africa, fans and other clubs urge the public to support Orlando Pirates. Kaizer Chiefs and Bafana Bafana number one supporter, Saddam Maake said, “We would like to make a call to South Africa’s football-loving people to show united support to Orlando Pirates for their historic victory against Al Ahly.” Kaizer Chiefs captain, Itumeleng Khune also showed support to Bucs. “I wish Pirates all the best of luck,” he said. Orlando Pirates is the only side in South Africa to win the trophy 18 years ago and yet they are up again with the possibility of repeating history.
Worries are up in South Africa about the state of the political issues in Cairo – not so long ago we saw protesters, explosion and violence. Orlando Pirates Floyd Mbele said, “Everything is fine, we deal with South African embassies when we play in foreign countries and there is no need to worry about security.” It seems as if everything will go well in Cairo. Bucs winger, Daine Klate doesn’t seem worried either. “The worst match was in Lubumbashi but this one, we’re not worried about it,” he said. The match kicks off at 5:30pm on Sunday.