Pirates aim for second CAF title

Former winners Orlando Pirates should tread warily against visiting Recreativo do Libolo of Angola when the 2012 Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League kicks off this weekend.

The 1995 champions suffered a humiliating first round defeat two years ago after underestimating Gaborone United from neighbouring Botswana, losing a two-goal advantage at home and the tie on away goals.

Libolo have limited international experience and none of their players made the squad for the just completed Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, but Angolan club football standards are higher than those of Botswana.

Soweto-based Pirates turned 75 this year and club chairperson Irvin Khoza craves a second CAF title after shocking ASEC Mimosas 1-0 in Côte d’Ivoire to capture the 1995 title.

He invested heavily in new players last month, including former Arsenal and West Ham striker Luis Boa Morte, but they missed the CAF registration deadline and can play him only if the Buccaneers reach the mini-league phase.


To get there Pirates must eliminate Libolo, Sunshine Stars of Nigeria, and one side from Revenue Authority of Uganda, Correctional Services of Lesotho or Djoliba of Mali with the latter the most likely opponents.

It is a difficult path to the eight-club group phase although superstitious Pirates supporters happily recall that the club overcame Nigerian opponents BCC Lions in the second round 17 years ago.

Rusty
Pirates returned to action in midweek after a two-month mid-season break and beat Black Leopards 1-0 with rust evident in many of the players although Libolo are similarly handicapped with the Angolan championship yet to kick off.

Brazil-born coach Julio Leal is pinning a lot of faith in veteran striker Benni McCarthy, who wants to complete a unique double after winning the Uefa Champions League with Portuguese club Porto.

“Benni is a footballer of superior quality who brings an extra dimension to the team. His strengths include holding up the ball, bringing teammates into play and an ability to score goals,” boasted the South American.

Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zamalek of Egypt are other former champions in action this weekend with a further six led by title holders Esperance of Tunisia receiving byes.

Although the Kinshasa outfit have disappointed in recent appearances, they will are favoured to establish a winning lead at home to Athletico Olympic of Burundi.

Zamalek, whose record of five Champions League titles is bettered only by Cairo neighbours al-Ahly with one more, face a tougher challenge away to experienced international campaigners Young Africans of Tanzania.

Tusker of Kenya host APR of Rwanda in an East African derby and the return of Power Dynamos of Zambia after an 11-year absence begins with a game in Madagascar against debutants Japan Actuel. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

Vodacom swindled out of more than R24m worth of Apple...

A former employee allegedly ran an intricate scam to steal 8700 phones from the cellular giant

Come what may, the UIF will pay

The fund – the main safety net for unemployed workers – will run at an almost R20-billion deficit

More top stories

We will find resources to ensure the Zondo commission completes...

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola says his department will ensure the state capture commission is afforded the financial resources to complete its work, despite the treasury’s uncertainty

Covid-19 variant may protect people against reinfection and other variants,...

The 501Y.V2 strain produces strong antibodies, but it’s not known how long immunity lasts, so being vaccinated remains essential

Tobacco industry calls Dlamini-Zuma’s bid to appeal ban a...

The minister could spend the state’s money on fighting Covid-19 and cigarette cartels, tobacco manufacturers argue

Zondo commission: Glencore sold Optimum to portray me as a...

Former Eskom chief executive paints himself as the victim of a plot at the hands of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s former business associates
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…