Orlando Pirates will come up against RS Berkane in the Caf Confederation Cup final at Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Nigeria on Friday.
The South African giants will be taking part in their second final of the competition, having reached the same stage in 2015 when they failed to go past Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel in the two-legged tie.
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During the final, Pirates lost on a 2-1 aggregate result. After managing a 1-1 draw in the first leg meeting at Orlando Stadium on November 21, 2015, they travelled to Tunisia where they lost the second leg 1-0 at Stade Olympique de Sousse on November 29, 2015.
Pirates have a chance to make things right when they take on the Moroccan outfit, who will be making their third appearance in the final in four years, and won the competition in 2020 after defeating Egyptian side Pyramids FC 1-0 in the final at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Complex in Rabat.
Pirates reached the final after a 2-1 aggregate result against Al Ahli Tripoli of Libya. The Buccaneers travelled to Libya for the semi-final first leg meeting where they emerged 2-0 winners courtesy of goals from Innocent Maela and Goodman Mosele at Martyrs of February Stadium.
However, in the return leg at Orlando Stadium, they suffered a 1-0 defeat. On the other hand, Berkane qualified for the final stage after securing a 4-2 aggregate win against TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After losing the first leg 1-0 at Stade TP Mazembe, Berkane, who were the runners-up in the 2019 edition after losing 5-3 on post-match penalties to Zamalek of Egypt, recovered to hammer ten-man Mazembe 4-1 at Stade Municipal de Berkane.
|Game||Orlando Pirates vs RS Berkane|
|Date||Friday, May 20, 2022|
|Time||21:00 SA Time|
TV Channel, Live Score & How To Watch
|Online Streaming||TV Channel|
|DStv.com/DStv Now App||SuperSport TV's PSL channel 202|
Squads & Team News
Buccaneers co-coaches Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids welcomed attacking midfielder Vincent Pule back to the matchday squad in their previous outing, and the 30-year-old could be handed an extended run in the final.
Pirates have also been boosted with the return of defensive midfielder Thabang Monare, who has been on the sidelines owing to injury, but defender Paseka Mako will not be involved, as he is yet to recover since suffering a head injury in April.
Pirates’ midfielder Bandile Shandu believes they will have to be on top of their game if they are to get past Berkane.
“The occasion itself just brings everyone to step up, to spring a bit more than the previous game. I think to win; you need to be on top of your game,” Shandu said ahead of the game as quoted by CafOnline.
“You need to be fully focused and working hard, nothing beats hard work. I think we will do very well. It’s an amazing feeling, the build up to the final sets how big the occasion is and it’s a huge privilege to be part of a fantastic team, Orlando Pirates.”
Meanwhile, Berkane, led by Congolese tactician Florent Ibenge, will have their full squad to pick the starting XI when they step into the final in Nigeria.
Some of their key players include Youssef El Fahli and Chadrack Muzungu. The two have enjoyed a good run in the competition with El Fahli chasing the Confederation Cup Golden Boot having netted five goals in the competition so far.
Defensive midfielder Najji Labri will also be key for the Moroccan side alongside Burkina Faso international Issoufou Dayo and Ismail Mokadem.
In the history of the competition, this is going to be the first-ever meeting between the two sides.
Over the last 10 matches across all competitions, Pirates have won four, suffered three defeats and drawn three while Berkane have a slightly better record over the same number of matches, as they have won six, drawn two and lost two.
Ironically, the two teams are currently placed in position seven in their respective league tables. Pirates have managed 40 points from 27 matches. They have won nine, drawn 13 and lost five.
On the other hand, Berkane have managed 31 points from 22 matches. They have registered seven wins, 10 draws, and suffered five defeats.
Apart from when they reached the final in 2015, Pirates' other two previous appearances in the competition were in 2004 when they reached the play-off round and last season when they got to the quarter-finals and lost 5-2 to Raja Club Athletic of Morocco.