Al Ahly v Orlando Pirates Preview

CAF Confederations Cup Semi-Final | Sunday 04 October | Suez Army Stadium | 20:30

The CAF Confederations Cup reaches its penultimate match as Orlando Pirates travel to Cairo to play Al Ahly in the second leg of their semi-final. The Buccaneers carry a vital advantage going into the match as they won last weekend’s clash 1-0 at Orlando Stadium.

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To Win (90mins)
Al Ahly 15/20
Draw 22/10
Pirates 38/10

Al Ahly

Al Ahly have had a frustrating season finishing second to Zamalek in the league, losing to them in the cup final last week and now face a battle to turn their first leg result around against a spirited Orlando Pirates side. However, if there is one team who will back themselves to come out tops in a situation like this it will be the “African Club of the Century”.

Al Ahly were shocked by an eighth minute goal from Pirates at Orlando Stadium but did well to fight back and slowly put Pirates on the back foot. The Egyptian side made a tactical change at the start of the second half, replacing right-back Mohamed Hany (who was exposed for the first goal) with striker Malick Evouna. As a result, Ahly dominated the second half and looked a far more dangerous prospect in attack. Pirates were able to see out the remainder of the game, with Ahly eventually running out of steam and ideas as they searched for a way back into the game. However, the Red Devils will be far more dangerous on their own pitch in the second leg.

The five-time Champions League winners won all three of their group games at home, as well as the first leg of their qualifier in Suez. They scored five goals in their three victories at home during the group stages, but more impressively didn’t concede a goal. Ramadan Sobhy will be looking to make his mark for The Red Devils. The 18-year-old attacking midfielder has proved to be one of Al Ahly’s danger men this season which has resulted in him being dubbed as a future legend of Egyptian football. Another player that could cause the Pirates defence some trouble is 24-year-old striker Amr Gamal who came off the bench in the reverse leg but is expected to make a return to the starting line-up.

Orlando Pirates

Orlando Pirates were beaten over two legs by Al Ahly two years ago in the Champions League final and will finally get their revenge if they can keep their lead in this encounter. Thamsanqa Gabuza’s physical presence and finishing has proved critical in Pirates' Confederation Cup success to date. His ability to make those dangerous runs into the opposition box, coupled with his great positioning, troubled the Ahly defence and he grabbed the all-important goal from a Kermit Erasmus cross in the eighth minute.

Second half was all about keeping the lead for the Sea Robbers with skipper Rooi Mahamutsa leading by example in the heart of defence. The soon to be 34-year-old made many clean challenges, covered right-back Ntsikelelo Nyauza on occasion and kept the opposition strikers quiet. Felipe Ovono did well between the sticks and beyond to earn a commendable clean sheet. The Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper made a couple of good saves and was quick off his line when called upon to come out and rescue his defence. Captain Oupa Manyisa is still out injured while Eric Tinkler’s other central midfield regular Issa Sarr returned from compassionate leave and made a substitute appearance last weekend to get his team over the line.

Knowing how dangerous the Egyptians are, Tinkler could change his tactics and play just one striker up front and bring Sarr back into the starting eleven to play centrally with Lehlohonolo Masalesa and Thandani Ntshumayelo in a five man midfield. Masalesa and Ntshumayelo gained invaluable experience in the Champions League two years ago, and they were obvious choices as soon as it was confirmed that Oupa Manyisa would miss the clash. Ntshumayelo bossed the midfield at times with some good passes, while Masalesa used his long legs and height to make life difficult for the likes of Hossam Ashour and Sobhy.

Probable line-ups:

Al Ahly 4-2-3-1
Ekrami; Hany, Samir, Naguib, Rahil; Fathi, Ashour; El-Said, Zakareya, Sobhi; Gamal

Pirates 4-5-1
Ovono; Nyauza, Mahamutsa, Gcaba, Matlaba; Sarr, Masalesa, Ntshumayelo, Rakhale, Myeni; Erasmus

Betting Verdict: Draw 22/10
Pirates won both their travels in the group stages before losing 4-1 to Zamalek in Egypt after already securing qualification to the semi-finals. They were also unbeaten in their away games during the qualifiers, drawing twice and winning once. This will be the Buccaneers’ second game away to Al Ahly with both meetings coming in the 2013 Champions League. They managed a 3-0 away victory during the group stages but fell to a 2-0 loss in the final. Al Ahly are usually invincible at home but dropped points in seven of their 19 home games in the league this season, drawing five times and losing twice. Pirates know how dangerous their opposition can be so I’m predicting them to come “park the bus” and come away with a draw which will qualify them for the final. 

Written by Wayde Dorkin for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

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