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CAFCC: Orlando Pirates look to close out semifinal at home with two-goal advantage

Orlando Pirates are in excellent position to return to the CAF Confederation Cup final following a 2-0 semifinal first leg victory in Libya against Al Ahli Tripoli and will look to finish the job on Sunday in the return leg in Johannesburg. Pirates made it to the CAFCC final in 2015 but fell short at the final hurdle and will be determined to take care of business at home and return to the same stage for an opportunity to capture their first continental trophy since the CAF Super Cup and CAF Champions League in 1996 and 1995. Meanwhile, Al Ahli will attempt to overcome a long trip and heavy odds to upstage the Bucs on their home ground to win by a two-goal margin.

Despite their dream first leg result, Bucs co-coaches Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids are attempting to keep any premature celebrations on ice with Ncikazi knowing that Ahli “can go to South Africa and do the same to us”. Despite an underwhelming DStv Premiership campaign back home, the Soweto giants will be looking to continue an excellent run that has seen them live an alternative existence in continental play with goals flowing freely.

Pirates finally got their attack to click in Benghazi last week with striker Kwame Peprah coming through to be the presence up top they needed. The Ghanaian occupied Ahli defenders with his physical presence and created lanes for playmakers Deon Hotto and Goodman Mosele to exploit, something that Pirates will attempt to replicate. There should be little to no changes in the lineup for the co-coaches and Hotto in particular will lead the Bucs attack with five assists in CAFCC play this season.

The odds seem to be stacked against Ahli on the other hand. A long grueling trip that took last season’s Libyan Premier League runners-up through Turkey on their way to South Africa will not help their cause. Coach Fathi Al-Jabal is keeping a stern face in the midst of adversity and stated that he is confident his side can overturn the deficit. The disappointing home leg result is motivating Ahli to and according to Al-Jabal, is making them “more motivated” to achieve what would be a historic result not only for the club but Libyan football.

Controversy came with the team’s long trip by the conspicuous absence of striker Anis Saltou. The Libya national team and former FUS Rabat player did not make the trip and many speculated that payment issues were the reason but Kooora reports that the player’s aversion to long flights was the reason and Saltou himself took to Facebook to dispel any rumors of discontent on his side. To make up for Saltou’s goal scoring prowess it will be up to Moroccan loanee striker Mohamed El Fakih and Libyan Saleh Al-Taher, both veterans who can get Al Ahli back in the tie.

Pirates eye fourth continental final (SuperSport)
Fill up Orlando Stadium (SuperSport)

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