Bucs on the cusp of something great

Thamsanqa  Gabuza of Orlando Pirates (Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix)

Thamsanqa Gabuza of Orlando Pirates (Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix)

Orlando Pirates’ African adventures continue this week, as they head into Egypt to take on Al-Ahly, with a place in the Confederation Cup final at stake.

Eric Tinkler’s side hold a 1-0 lead from the first leg of the semifinal, a lead that looks particularly slender given the nature of the opposition – the Red Devils of Cairo are the reigning Confederation Cup champions, not to mention the winners of a record eight Champions League titles.

Yet there are a couple of reasons for cautious optimism as Bucs side look to avoid a repeat of the 2013 Champions League final, when a 2-0 defeat in Cairo ended their dreams.

The first is that in 2013, Pirates went to the Egyptian capital with only a 1-1 draw in reserve from the first leg. This time they have a lead, however slim it may be, and know one away goal will leave Ahly needing three to progress.

The second reason to feel good for Pirates fans is that this game is not in Cairo, but about 150km east in the city of Suez.

The last time the Buccaneers played Al- Ahly outside of Cairo, it was in the group stages of the 2013 Champions League in El Gouna, and they won 3-0, albeit the match was played behind closed doors.

It is unclear how many Ahly fans will attend the match at the Suez Army Stadium, but it is highly unlikely to be the same amount of fervent Red Devils fans who would have turned out in Cairo.

Hopefully, with my South African hat on, Pirates can come through this game, giving further credit to Tinkler as he battles balancing his side’s continental travails with finding form on the domestic front. I believe that, given time, Tinkler will also turn around Pirates’ fortunes in the Premiership.

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