Orlando Pirates are ready for their highly-anticipated CAF Confederation Cup final against Moroccan side RS Berkane at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, Nigeria on Friday, 20 May.
The Soweto giants are in search of another continental title after their triumph in the 1995 CAF Champions League which was followed by victory in the subsequent CAF Super Cup.
Having finished as CAF Confederation Cup runners-up in 2015, they will be looking to go one better this time around against a side which has clinched this particular prize as recently as 2020.
The Moroccans confirmed their spot in the final when they overturned a 1-0 deficit from the first leg against two-time champions TP Mazembe to emerge victorious with a convincing 4-2 aggregate win after piling on the goals in their home leg.
The result in their previous knockout assignment was less emphatic, with away goals paving their path to the last four after finishing tied on two goals apiece with Egypt’s Al Masry.
In between their CAF Confederation Cup triumphs, the Orange Boys have experienced some indifferent form in domestic football, losing three of their last five league games while faring better in the Moroccan Throne Cup, where they have advanced to the quarter-finals.
Orlando Pirates’ league form has been poor
Similarly, Orlando Pirates’ league form has been far from ideal, with two wins in their last five outings and just four goals scored.
They were however, impressive in bagging a vital 2-0 win away to Al Ahly Tripoli in the first leg of their semi-final tie before clinging on for a 2-1 aggregate victory, following a narrow loss at home.
Like their opponents, the Buccaneers endured a tight quarter-final assignment, edging past Simba SC on penalties after each leg ended with a 1-0 scoreline in favour of the hosts.
The Buccaneers welcomed attacking midfielder Vincent Pule back to their match day squad in their previous outing, and the 30-year-old could be handed an extended run in the final after a few good touches in his brief cameo last Sunday.
Also likely to feature is defensive midfielder Thabang Monare, who returned to the bench after a short spell on the sidelines, while defender Paseka Mako continues to inch closer to a comeback having been out of action since early April.
RS Berkane are expected to field a near full-strength team after reporting no serious injuries from their highly physical encounter with TP Mazembe.
Players to watch
Youssef El Fahli and Chadrack Muzungu are both potent goal-scoring threats, with the former chasing the CAF Confederation Cup Golden Boot after netting five goals in the competition so far.
Defensive midfielder Najji Labri has also been among the goals this season, adding three to RS Berkane’s tally and his vast experience will be vital in stabilising things in and around the centre of the park.
Their defence is marshalled by Burkina Faso international Issoufou Dayo, who boasts over 50 caps to his name and is likely to start alongside the ever-present Ismail Mokadem.
How to watch: Orlando Pirates v RS Berkane
Kick-off is at 21:00 (SA time) and will be televised live on SuperSport PSL, with the live build-up starting an hour earlier. The fixture will also be screened on SABC Sport channels on OpenView HD and TelkomOne.
However, as always, the very best way to follow the action is on The South African website.
Good luck, Buccaneers!
Orlando Pirates have silverware in their sights as they prepare to take on RS Berkane in the CAF Confederation Cup final on Friday, 20 May. Photo: Twitter @OrlandoPirates