Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates will launch their claim to renew the glory days of South African football on Saturday when they host Comoros side Djabal in a CAF Champions League match at Orlando Stadium, kick-off at 8:15pm.
This will be the Buccaneer 64th match in continental competition, with a win rate of over 50 percent. They have 32 wins, 16 draws and 15 losses overall. So they certainly have the experience of playing in this continental show-piece which will play to their advantage.
The hopes of South Africa rest on the shoulders of Pirates as they take on Djabal in search of the continental success that has eluded SA clubs for over a decade.
Only twice before have Premier Soccer League teams won an African club competition with Pirates taking the top club prize in 1995 and Kaizer Chiefs the other side to lift a trophy in the old-format African Cup Winners’ Cup 12 years ago.
But their last two campaigns have been flops with embarrassing first round defeats at the hands of opponents from Angola and Botswana.
Last year’s exit to Recreativo Libolo of Angola cost coach Julio Cesar Leal his job, further highlighting the pressure on Roger de Sa and his men.
Heading into the match Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwathi highlights the importance of a good start on Saturday.
“We learnt our lesson with what happened in the last two years, when we participated in the tournament and were beaten by teams from both Botswana and Angola. It’s a must to win at home and score a number of goals and make our job easy for the return match,” said the defender.
This weekend marks the 20th anniversary since South Africa first entered in the three annual competitions – the African Champions Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and Confederation of African Football (CAF) Cup.
Since 2004, they have been consolidated into two events -- the Champions League and the African Confederation Cup but with a lack of South African success.
Pirates are expected to have a first round, first leg romp against Djabal from the tiny Comoros Islands, with the opportunity to threaten the South African record 9-0 score SuperSport United racked up against opposition from the Seychelles in 2005.