x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Egypt’s Al Ahly to clash with South Africa’s Orlando Pirates in CAF Champions League first leg final

“It’s going to be a tough game, they are one of the top teams in Africa, club of the century in Africa," said Pirates coach Roger da Sa of the Cairo club.

South Africa’s Orlando Pirates will hope to beat record winners Al Ahly of Egypt at home in Saturday’s CAF Champions League first leg final on their way to a second continental title.

The 1995 African champions are up against seven-time champions Ahly for the biggest prize in African club football.

Pirates coach Roger de Sa has said they will be the underdogs in the final against the defending champions, but at the same time they hope to give it their best shot.

“It’s going to be a tough game, they are one of the top teams in Africa, club of the century in Africa. They have won all the awards, all the stars, so it’s a difficult task at hand, but we have come through it well this far,” said the former South Africa international goalkeeper.

“It’s important to keep it tight and not concede so we can take something there. We must get a good start. It won’t end here on Saturday. There are 180 minutes to play at least. There is a long way to go.

“One thing is for sure, we will try our best, like we have been doing so far, and hopefully we will have something to smile about.”

They have won four and drawn three of their home games in this year’s competition, scoring 14 goals and conceding three.

“We have to do our best at home by trying not to concede and then play for a draw away,” said Pirates ace Andile Jali.

Midfielder Sifiso Myeni is expected to be fit for the game after he picked up an injury in a recent match, but skipper Lucky Lekgwathi will again be unavailable as he has been out of the team for several matches already.

The Buccaneers have been unbeaten at home in this competition and have beaten some of the continent’s top teams including Ahly, Zamalek of Egypt, Esperance of Tunisia as well as TP Mazembe of DR Congo on their way to this year’s showpiece final.

They were held to a goalless draw by Ahly at home after they thumped the perennial Egyptian champions 3-0 in Gouna in August behind closed doors in the group stage of the competition.

Ahly’s experienced campaigner Wael Gomaa has singled out striker Lennox Bacela as Pirates’ most dangerous threat, while also praising the South Africans’ midfield.

“Bacela is Pirates’ most dangerous man. That was quite obvious during our match against them and from the goals he scored in other matches (vs Zamalek).

“Pirates also have a very strong midfield which feeds the attack very well.”

The return leg final will be played on November 10 at the Military Stadium in Cairo in front of fans with the overall winners qualifying to represent Africa at the Fifa Club World Cup in Morocco in December.