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Bucs will extend record number of participations in continental competition

Orlando Pirates have confirmed they will be entering next year’s African Champions League, joining SuperSport United who are competing in the continent’s top competition, the African Confederations Cup.

 Pirates coach Roger de Sa gave the first firm confirmation of the club’s intent this week.

 He said the decision to have a large 30-man squad at Pirates this season was to allow for the expanded programme that the players faced by competing in the Champions League next year.

 Pirates will play in the Champions League for a ninth time, which extends the record they have for a South African club in the continent’s top event.

 They are also the only team from the country to have won the prize - way back in 1995 when the competition was still known as the African Champions Cup.

 Last year the club’s owner Irvin Khoza set as a target success in the competition but Pirates embarrassingly crashed out in the first round, losing at home and on aggregate to the Angolan outfit Recreativo Libolo.

 In 2010, Pirates also suffered a humiliating setback when they were beaten in the first round by minnows Gaborone United of Botswana on the away goals rule after a 2-2 aggregate draw.

 Poor performances by South Africa clubs in recent years have cost the country a quota of two places in each of the annual pan-African competitions.

 South Africa has lost its place among the top 14 countries that are allowed a double entry, which means Pirates as league winners go to the Champions League and SuperSport United as Nedbank Cup victors compete on the African Confederation Cup but there are no other places for South African clubs.

The two clubs have until the end of November to officially enter and the draw for the first rounds will follow in mid-December. It will be conducted at the Confederation of African Football headquarters in Cairo.