Caf Champions League: Are Orlando Pirates ready to lift the trophy?

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The Buccaneers will again attempt to win the Caf Champions League this season, but are they ready to lift the trophy?

Orlando Pirates will make their return to continental football with a clash against Zambian side Green Eagles this weekend. 

The Buccaneers gave a good account of themselves in the Caf Champions League over the last two seasons but they didn't look like challenging for the trophy. 

Now, the question is whether or not the Sea Robbers are ready to achieve that goal this time around. 

There are several factors that make a team win the ultimate continental prize, and as things stand, those factors could prevent Pirates from winning the Caf Champions League. 

Cup pedigree

Orlando Pirates fans

When Pirates won the Caf Champions League in 1995, they had just been crowned champions in South Africa the previous year. 

The team had the winning mentality and knew exactly what they needed to do against the big guns of African football by dominating on the local front. 

The Buccaneers last dominated the South African league between 2010 and 2011. Even in the next two years, they still had the players who knew how to win trophies. 

And this helped them reach the final in 2013 where they lost to Al Ahly in Egypt after playing to a 1-1 draw in the first leg. 

That year, Pirates showed a lot more hunger to win the coveted trophy and played with intent from the first round all the way to the final. 

The current generation hasn't won a trophy in almost six years, while the team hasn't laid their hands on the league trophy in nine years. 

This factor could derail their ambitions of lifting the trophy even though the team continues to play attractive football. 

Experience 

Happy Jele Orlando Pirates and Samir Nurkovic Kaizer Chiefs - July 2019

The majority of the teams that have done well in Caf competitions had the experience, including Al Ahly who are one of the best teams in Africa. 

Looking at the Pirates squad, very few players have been exposed to continental football before. 

This will be their biggest test, more so after making so many changes to the playing personnel over the past few years by releasing experienced players.    

Happy Jele, Wayne Sandilands, and Asavela Mbekile are the three players with huge experience in continental competitions, but the trio cannot deliver silverware on their own. 

The current squad needs to play more games together to understand each other's weaknesses and strengths before challenging for continental honours.

Expectations 

Milutin Sredojevic, Orlando Pirates

For a big team that hasn't won a major trophy in a long time, there are new expectations every season. 

And those expectations come at a price because players can either sink or swim, depending on how mentally strong they are. 

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The nation saw how Micho Sredojevic's team has been playing over the past two seasons, and everyone expects them to win trophies reward their fans with a trophy or two this season. 

Pirates fell short of winning the league in two consecutive seasons between 2018 and 2019, meaning they will again be expected to attempt at winning the PSL title this term. 

The technical team may be prioritising the league and domestic Cups over the Caf Champions League to manage expectations from their fans as Sredojevic looks to complete his three-year project with silverware. 

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