Pirates have won only three of their last 10 Champions League matches, but are still within touching distance of winning the competition for the second time.
After using Port Elizabeth as their home venue in the previous campaign, the Buccaneers decided to return to their spiritual home of Orlando Stadium, and the move paid off.
Although the PSL is allocated only one spot in the CAF Champions League, if the Buccaneers win the competition they will qualify for next year’s tournament as defending champions and Kaizer Chiefs will also qualify, as League champions, making it two teams for South Africa.
ROAD TO THE FINAL
Walk in the park
Orlando Pirates 5 Djabal Club 0
After using Port Elizabeth as their home venue in the previous Champions League campaign, Orlando Pirates return to Orlando, and it pays of as they slaughter Djabal Club from Comoros 5-0, with Takesure Chinyama netting four goals. But it was Sifiso Myeni who opened the scoring for the Buccaneers.
Djabal Club 0 Orlando Pirates 4
After being thumped 4-1 by Second Division side Maluti FET College in the Nedbank Cup and losing 3-2 to Moroka Swallows in the League, Orlando Pirates restore their dignity, beating Djabal 4-0 for a 9-0 aggregate win. Thulasizwe Mbuyane, Ndumiso Mabena, Takesure Chinyama and Onyekachi Okonkwo were all the scoresheet as the Buccaneers progressed to the next round.
Solid job well done
Zanaco 0 Orlando Pirates 1
Despite a dismal performance in the League, Orlando Pirates continue with their superb performance in the continental competition. Playing away in Zambia on a hard pitch, an early goal from Ndumiso Mabena hands the Buccaneers a valuable victory. It’s also Mabena’s second goal in the competition, as he scored in the previous round against Djabal.
Orlando Pirates 2 Zanaco 1
Orlando Pirates made difficult work of their first round second leg against Zanaco, but manage to win 2-1 and 3-1 on aggregate. Zanaco started the better side, but Bucs take control and open the scoring though Khethowakhe Masuku. In the second half Zanaco equalise through Musonda Mwape, but Mpho Makola put the matter beyond doubt with a well-taken free-kick.
The battle of Lubumbashi
Orlando Pirates 3 TP Mazembe 1
According to pundits, this is the match where Orlando Pirates were meant to bow out but against all odds did the impossible. The Buccaneers are dominant right through the match and could have beaten the former African champions by a bigger margin. The homeside takes the lead inside two minutes through Onyekachi Okonkwo’s well taken shot but the visitors level matters through Patou Kabangu. In the second half a brace from Collins Mbesuma seals a 3-1 win and a scuffle between Mazembe and match officials ensued.
TP Mazembe 1 Orlando Pirates 0
A red card and two penalties against Bucs were followed by reports of intimidation and the arrest of South African journalists covering the match, while the state broadcaster was also barred from covering the match. However, Pirates defy the odds to reach the group stages of the completion, losing 1-0 but beating Mazebe 3-2 on aggregate. Senzo Meyiwa will always be remembered for saving two penalties.
Orlando Pirates 0 AC Leopards 0
The Buccaneers control and dominate the match but only walk away with a single point after an uninspiring performance. The visitors are defensive but could have scored midway through the first half when Junior Mouzita’s shot ricochets off the crossbar. New signing Lennox Bacela made his debut for the Buccaneers.
Day to remember
Al Ahly 0 Orlando Pirates 3
Due to political unrest in the country, Al Ahly’s matches are played at El Gouna, and Orlando Pirates take advantage of the situation and thump the home side 3-0. Every Pirates player rises to the occasion – Thandani Ntshumayelo opens the scoring in the first half before Andile Jali and Sifiso Myeni kill the match off with two second half goals.
Bacela comes to the party
Orlando Pirates 4 Zamalek 1
This is the match in which new signing Bacela won the hearts of the Bucs faithful, scoring one and creating another. Goals from Tlou Segolela, Sifiso Myeni and Daine Klate ensured a 4-1 win, and the resounding victory put Orlando Pirates on route to the semi-finals.
The wheels come off
Zamalek 2 Orlando Pirates 1
Needing a win to be guaranteed of a place in the semi-finals, Orlando Pirates suffer their first defeat in the group stages. The Egyptians come out guns blazing and go 1-0 up inside six minutes through Eid Abdel Malek, after Lucky Lekgwathi fouled Mahmoud Shikabala. Bacela grabs the equaliser just after the half-hour mark, after surging up the left wing, turning his defender and beating goalkeeper Abdul-Wahed Al-Sayed with a low shot. Five minutes inside second half, Senzo Meyiwa misreads a corner kick and Salah Soliman makes it 2-1 with a header.
From bad to worse
AC Leopards 1 Orlando Pirates 0
Things get worse for the Buccaneers as they lose 1-0 to AC Leopards, putting their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals in jeopardy. In a match played on a bumpy pitch, both sides go for the win but both fail to score and the first half ends 0-0. But Dimitri Bissik's 72nd minute goal sees Al Ahly, Pirates and Leopards with chances of going through.
Orlando Pirates 0 Al Ahly 0
With Zamalek beating AC Leopards 4-1 in the other match, a draw is enough to see Pirates secure a spot in the semi-finals of the competition. Al Ahly start the match controlling the midfield but it isn’t long before Bucs launch a few attacks of their own. Ahly, playing long balls to their target-man also have a few chances to score, but the match ends 0-0.
A goalless stalemate
Orlando Pirates 0 Esperance 0
While Pirates control ball possession it’s the Tunisians who create more goalscoring opportunities. As early as the ninth minute, Esperance striker Joseph N’djeng is allowed time and space on the ball, with his left-footed strike hitting the top of goal. Towards the end of the match fullback Thabo Matlaba, who came in for injured Patrick Phungwayo, almost scores, but his well taken trademark piledriver is well saved by Moez Ben Cherifia. Both sides are happy with the result.
Operation second star in progress
Esperance 1 Orlando Pirates 1
With Siyabonga Sangweni and Lekgwathi left behind, Orlando Pirates were up against it. And after playing to a goalless draw away from home the Tunisians go into the match thinking they can easily brush Pirates aside to reach an unprecedented fourth final in a row. But it is Pirates who dominate the match, creating scoring opportunities only to be let down by poor finishing. After Rooi Mahamutsa opens the scoring with a well taken header, the home side have to score two goals to win the match, alhtough that starts to look possible when Iheb Msakni converts a cross on the 55th minute. In the last 35 minutes of the match Pirates are wasteful in front of opposition goals but manage to hold on to the draw which takes them to Final for the first since 1995.