Lekgwathi the only survivor from 2006 CAF semi

Orlando Pirates

In 2006 Pirates came up against CS Sfaxien in the semi-finals of the continent’s premier club competition, but came unstuck, faltering 0-1 on aggregate.

Seven years later, the Buccaneers are preparing for another last-four showdown against yet another Tunisia opponent – Esperance – on Saturday.

Bucs host the first edition of the two-legged battle at Orlando Stadium tomorrow, kick-off at 6pm.

While it has been seven years since The Ghost came close to tasting continental glory, just one player – Lucky Lekgwathi – knows how it feels to play in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

The Bucs skipper has however been the centre of controversy this week, after he was mysteriously dropped for the MTN8 Final last weekend and claimed "sinister forces" were at work at the club, and it remains to be seen if he will be brought back into the starting XI for the crunch tie against the ‘Blood and Gold’

Lekgwathi captained the Bucs over both legs back in 2006, leading only two teammates who are still playing in the PSL – Onyekachi Okonkwo (now at Mpumalanga Black Aces) and Lebohang Mokoena (now at Mamelodi Sundowns).

The rest of that Pirates team has left the club – and some have even disappeared from football completely.

Lekgwathi was also the only player to feature in all 14 matches Pirates played in Africa during 2006. The 37-year-old is without doubt the most experienced player at the club – one whose knowledge will be needed if Bucs are to claim that most-coveted ‘second star’. 

Other players still in the PSL who were part of the Pirates squad that year, but who did not feature in the Champions League, are Benett Chenene, Happy Jele, Fikru Tefera Lemessa, Paulus Masehe, Solomon Mathe, Innocent Mdledle and Senzo Meyiwa.

Jele and Meyiwa are still at the club and are both definite to start tomorrow.

The other five players who played in the earlier rounds of the Champions League for Pirates that year – Joseph Makhanya, Kelebogile Mabe, Isaac Chansa, Francis Chansa and Tyren Arendse – are not playing in the PSL at the moment.  

Below are the Pirates line-ups for the two legs against Sfaxien in 2006:

1st leg: Avril Phali – Lucky Lekgwathi, Tonic Chabalala, Edward Malinga, Lucas Thwala – Gift Leremi, Onyekachi Okonkwo, Benedict Vilakazi (Jabu Mahlangu), Cavann Sibeko, Lebohang Mokoena – Blaise Lelo-Mbele (Phumudzo Manezhe)

2nd leg: Avril Phali – Lucky Lekgwathi, Lehlohonolo Seema, Tonic Chabalala, Edward Malinga, Lucas Thwala – Gift Leremi, Onyekachi Okonkwo (Jabu Mahlangu), Benedict Vilakazi (Lebohang Mokoena), Cavann Sibeko – Phumudzo Manezhe (Blaise Lelo-Mbele)

Do you remember that semi-final in 2006? What do Bucs need to do differently this time? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter @KickOffmagazine!