Orlando Pirates v Raja Casablanca

Boost for Orlando Pirates as goalkeepers Ofori, Mpontshane return from injury ahead of Raja Casablanca clash

11:50 SAST 2021/05/15
Thulani Hlatshwayo, Richard Ofori & Happy Jele, Orlando Pirates, March 2021
The Buccaneers were forced to play their last continental match against Enyimba without a substitute gloveman

Orlando Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauerhas confirmed the return of goalkeepers Richard Ofori and Siyabonga Mpontshane from injury while saying long-term absentee attacker Thembinkosi Lorch “might” be available for Sunday’s Caf Confederation Cup quarter-final, second leg clash against Raja Casablanca.

The Soweto giants have been depleted in the goalkeeping department with Wayne Sandilands and Elson Sithole the only available goal minders.

But with Sithole not registered for the Confederation Cup, Sundowns were forced to travel to their final group match to Enyimba without a keeper on the bench.

Zinnbauer has also said that Lorch, who last played in February, could be back together with captain Happy Jele and Thabang Monare. 

“It sure has been a problem [injuries to Ofori and Mpontshane], but we will have one or both of the players available on Sunday,” Zinnbauer told the media.

“We have to decide now which player has come back better from the injury. We have two days now, and we can have a look at which player is ready for the game. And the other injured players, we don’t have 100 percent information on which player is coming back. Maybe Happy will come back, Monare or Lorch.

“We will work on it but we have been waiting for a long time for these players and I hope tomorrow [Saturday] latest, [we find out] if one of these players is back. [Terrence] Dzukamanja is out, but I hope [Bongani] Sam comes back but Gaba [Frank Mhango] is back now. I hope they are all ready and we will then have a good choice [of selection] we can make for our starting line-up and the bench also.”

Ofori has not played since March, while Mpontshane has been out since April and has missed Pirates’ last five games.

The Buccaneers will be facing a Raja side who were the 2018 Confederation Cup champions and Zinnbauer talks about their title chances.

“It is important that we have a good result and if you have a good result we will be looking forward to next Sunday and then you have a big chance you can go to the semi-finals,” said Zinnbauer.

“That is the reason why we work, we want to win the title. But we know this opponent is one of the best in this competition. If we win this game we get into the semi-finals, then you have to think about winning the title. But first, we have to win these games.”