Pi­rates still have it all to play for in CAF Cup

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

De­spite Or­lando Pi­rates and Za­malek al­ready be­ing in the semi­fi­nals of the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup, there is still a lot to play for.

The two will bat­tle it out for top po­si­tion in Group B when they meet at the week­end.

Fin­ish­ing top of the group presents two ad­van­tages. The win­ner of group A shall meet the run­ner-up of Group B and the win­ner of Group B shall meet the run­ner-up of Group A.

Se­condly, the win­ning side will play their semi­fi­nal first leg away from home, giv­ing them home ground ad­van­tage in the all-im­por­tant re­turn leg.

So Pi­rates know what to do when they visit Egypt at the week­end.

Pi­rates and Za­malek are both on 12 points, but the Egyp­tians top the group be­cause of a bet­ter head-to­head record.

Al Ahly lead Group A, with Étoile Sportive du Sa­hel placed sec­ond. Both have also qual­i­fied for the semi­fi­nals. But they could swap po­si­tions at the week­end. Ahly visit Stade Malien in their last group match while Sa­hel will play Esper­ance in a clash of Tu­nisians.

A win for Pi­rates will not only guar­an­tee them top hon­ours, but they will also want to avenge the 2-1 de­feat Za­malek in­flicted on them in their first meet­ing in July.

Even more, Pi­rates have another score to set­tle with the north Africans, who de­feated them 2-1 in the 2013 group stages of the CAF Cham­pi­ons League.

Pi­rates’ last trip to Cairo ended in tears when they lost the Cham­pi­ons League tie to Ahly.

The good news for Pi­rates is that they got a chance to rest af­ter a marathon run of matches over the past few weeks.

The last time Pi­rates played com­pet­i­tively was against AC Léopards two weeks ago.

This will trans­late into a handy break of three weeks af­ter play­ing ev­ery four days, and they should be fresh for their trip to the land of the Pharaohs.

Although their do­mes­tic form has not been that great, they have saved their best for the con­ti­nen­tal show­piece, where they have won four of their five matches so far.

They are still to lose away from home af­ter claim­ing vic­to­ries in Congo-Braz­zav­ille and Tu­nisia.

Za­malek re­main the only club to have earned three points from them.

With num­ber one goal­keeper Brighton Mh­longo still side­lined af­ter un­der­go­ing a knee surgery, Felipe Ovono will man the posts for Pi­rates.

Pos Team

PHOTO: SYD­NEY MAHLANGU / BACKPAGEPI­X

LAST MAN STAND­ING Felipe Ovono is the only avail­able goal­keeper for Or­lando Pi­rates

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