Orlando Pirates on the verge of reaching CAF Cup final

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Orlando Pirates coach Mandla Ncikazi says his team will not change the approach, when they host Libyan team Al Ahli Tripoli in the CAF Confederation Cup second leg semi-final next weekend.

The Buccaneers will go into that match with an advantage after they beat the Libyan team 2-nil away in Benghazi on Sunday night.

Pirates are on the verge of reaching the Confederation Cup final for the first time since 2015.

They, unfortunately, lost that final to Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel 2-1 on aggregate in a two-legged final.

Pirates just need a draw or can even lose by a single goal to reach their second final, but Coach Mandla Ncikazi says they will not take their foot off the pedal.

“We have to prepare the same way, prepare as if it’s 0-0, we mustn’t think that we have won the match, it’s only halftime.  This is a good team; we don’t want to be surprised when they come at home, they can play. They have tall players, they can play direct, and we just have to be mindful of that. I am just glad that we have the foot in the right place and we were very positive today.”

Pirates’ run into the semi-finals has been impressive so far. They knocked out Diables Noirs from Congo-Brazzaville in the two-legged preliminary round 1-nil on aggregate.

They then topped Group B with 13 points from six matches. In the quarter-finals, they defeated Simba from Tanzania 4-3 on penalties after the two teams were level 1-all on aggregate over two legs.

The match against the Libyans in the semi-final was not as easy as the scoreline suggests according to Ncikazi.

“We played against a good team, these Tripolians are a very good team but it was important that Pirates should win.  I just want to thank the players and the management for their logistical support, it was not going to be possible if they did not give the support. But we played a very good team, very tactically good but I am just proud of our team for winning away from home and giving us a chance that when we go back home we have a chance to win at home.”

The Bucanneers are an experienced team in the CAF inter-club competition having won the champions league in 1995. They also reached the final in 2013, where they lost to Egyptian giants Al Ahly 3-1 on aggregate.

Ncikazi says Pirates is a very good team.  “We have got a good team. I have always maintained that Pirates is a good team, they have played in this cup before, they have played in the champions league before, the experience that we have, we have just not proven that. I am happy today that we can pull through and go into the next match with the lead that we have.”

The second leg will take place at the Orlando stadium in Soweto on Sunday.  Author- Vincent Sitsula