CAF Confederation Cup

Why Orlando Pirates face a massive test against Raja Casablanca

19:15 SAST 2021/05/15
Orlando Pirates, Enyimba
The first leg quarter-final encounter between the South African and Moroccan clubs takes place in Soweto on Sunday afternoon, 3pm kick off local time

In Raja Casablanca, Orlando Pirates face one of Africa's most accomplished clubs as well as a team in red-hot form at the moment.

While South African football fans have become fairly well-acquainted with Wydad Casablanca in recent years - due to their battles in the Caf Champions League with first Mamelodi Sundowns and more recently, Kaizer Chiefs, their Casablanca city rivals Raja have not been in the spotlight as much.

Raja, Confederation Cup winners in 2018 and also three-time Champions League winners, are however a big club in their own right and won the title in Morocco last season, beating Wydad to the prize. This season at the halfway point, the teams are neck and neck, with Raja one point behind Wydad.

And while Raja were knocked out after the first group phase of this season's Caf Champions League, they have been in sparkling form after dropping down into the Confederation Cup.

Of particular concern to a Pirates side that has battled up front this season in terms of form and injuries, is that the Raja defence has conceded just a single goal in the eight Confederation Cup games played this season. They also have a pretty healthy goal return of 14 goals in those eight fixtures.

Contrasting fortunes at Pirates

Bucs meanwhile have won five of their nine Confederation Cup fixtures this season while drawing three and losing one. They scored 10 goals along the way and to their credit have conceded just twice, something which may give them hope on Sunday.

Recent form though has been poor for the Buccaneers – they qualified for the quarter-finals despite having only taken one point from their last two group matches, while in all competitions, the Soweto side has won only three of their last 11 matches. That includes a very lacklustre showing in their 0-0 midweek draw with Stellenbosch.

This has upped the pressure on the team and put the spotlight on head coach Josef Zinnbauer. The German will need to get his calls right and inspire his men to a big performance if they are to come away with a positive result at Orlando Stadium and give themselves a chance in the second leg away in Morocco in a week's time.