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Orlando Pirates v African Stars

COMMENT: Why Orlando Pirates should stroll past African Stars in Caf Champions League

21:17 GMT+4 14/12/2018
Orlando Pirates, Justin Shonga, November 2018
Goal takes a look at the reasons why Bucs should be confident of defeating the Samba Boys in the Caf Champions League

South African side Orlando Pirates will continue their quest for continental glory when they take on African Stars on Saturday.

The Soweto giants are strong favourites to advance to the group stages of this season's Caf Champions League having eased past Seychelles' Light Stars 8-2 on aggregate in the preliminary rounds.

On the other end, reigning Namibian Premier League (NPL) champions African Stars, reached the first round after securing a hard-fought 2-1 aggregate win over Volcan Club of Comoros.

However, they will square off with African Stars having nothing to lose and everything to gain in Africa's most prestigious club competition.

Goal takes a look at the reasons why Pirates should stroll past the Namibian side in the two-legged tie.

Pedigree on the continent 

Pirates are one of the most decorated Southern African clubs in continental competitions having won the 1995 Caf Champions League and 1996 Caf Super Cup.

They reached the final of the Champions League in their last appearance in the competition five years ago, before finishing as runners-up in the 2015 Caf Confederation Cup.

Stars' record in Caf tournaments pales into insignificance when compared to Pirates' as they are making their debut in the Champions League.

They have appeared twice in the Caf Confederation Cup in 1992 and 2014, and they were knocked out in the preliminary rounds. The Windhoek-based side recently became the first Namibian club to reach the Champions League first round after defeating Volcan Club.

Coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic will be banking on the likes of Asavela Mbekile, Happy Jele and Mpho Makola, who have immense experience in African competitions. 

Micho is also an accomplished coach on the continent having reached the semi-finals of the two competitions, and the 2016 Caf Coach of the Year nominee is looking to go all the way and clinch the title.

Gulf in quality  

Stars' key player is Ronald Ketjijere, who once plied his trade in the PSL with the University of Pretoria. The influential midfielder captains both African Stars and the Namibia national team.

Well-travelled Zimbabwean striker Chrispen Mbewe and veteran midfielder Gustav Isaac, who both scored against Volcan, are also important players in the team.

However,  the gulf in quality and experience between the two teams is clear as Pirates have assembled a formidable squad that is capable of beating any team on the continent.

The squad is full of international players such as Thembinkosi Lorch, Innocent Maela and Vincent Pule, who have been instrumental for the Buccaneers this season.

Zambian duo of Justin Shonga and Augustine Mulenga, Zimbabwean winger Kudakwashe Mahachi as well as defender Marshall Munetsi have all been representing their respective countries in the last few months.

New coach & current form  

African Stars have a new coach in Bobby Samaria with the club having fired former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Robert Nauseb on Monday following a humiliating 5-1 defeat to rivals Black Africa in a domestic league match last weekend.

Although Samaria is one of Namibia's most successful coaches, he will have limited time to stabilize the team and prepare for this massive clash against Pirates away from home. 

The four-time Namibian champions have struggled in the domestic league this season having recorded two wins and two defeats in their first four matches, while Pirates are sitting at the top of the PSL standings - undefeated in their last 11 matches in the competition.

So, the current form favours Pirates heading into the two matches against African Stars, who will have to double or even triple their efforts to make it past the first round of the competition. 

Pirates have no excuse to lose to their neighbours, especially because they will be at home in the first leg.