Orlando Pirates v Etoile du Sahel Preview

CAF Confederations Cup Final (1st Leg) | Saturday 21 November | Orlando Stadium | 20:00

Following their disappointing penalty shoot-out defeat to rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the Telkom Knockout Semi-final, Orlando Pirates will swiftly shift their focus on the CAF Confederations Cup Final against Etoile du Sahel. The Tunisian side will be pitted against the Sea Robbers at Orlando Stadium in the first leg on Saturday before hosting the return leg on November 29 at Stade Olympique de Sousse.  

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To Win (90mins)
Orlando Pirates 2/1
Draw 23/10
Etoile du Sahel 12/10

Orlando Pirates

The Orlando Pirates team of the 2015/16 season are determined to add to the club’s legacy of achievement in African competitions. Eric Tinkler’s side can complete a ‘trinity’ of CAF Champions League, CAF Super Cup and CAF Confederation Cup if they succeed against Etoile du Sahel this two-legged finale. Pirates are participating in their second continental final in three years after finishing runners-up in the 2013 CAF Champions League. 

The Buccaneers excelled in the group stage of the competition, winning four of their six matches – finishing runners-up behind Egyption side Zamalek, and booking their place in the semi-finals. They then earned their place in this year’s final when they came from a goal down to defeat Egyptian giants Al Ahly 4-3 in front of their home supporters. As greater success Pirates have achieved in the Confederations Cup, their form domestically hasn’t been up to standard, as they currently lie 10th on the log with just three victories from nine matches. However, their last two league matches has seen the Bucs pick up back-to-back victories away to Kaizer Chiefs 3-1 and Ajax Cape Town 2-1. 

Pirates duo Kermit Erasmus and Felipe Ovono have made it to the top 10 list for the 2015 African Player of the Year (based in Africa). Initially, Pirates had four players in Erasmus, Ovono, Thamsanqa Gabuza and Oupa Manyisa, but they now have just two players left in the running for the award. Not only did Ovono put in a number of top-notch performances to see Equatorial Guinea reach their first ever African Cup of Nations semi-final this year, but he also had a role to play in Pirates’ qualification for the final. Erasmus on the other hand has got 13 goals in 2015 so far, including five in the Confederations Cup. His partnership with Gabuza has been deadly in this tournament, with the pair scoring 10 goals between them. Manyisa and Issa Sarr will pull the strings from the middle of the park. Oupa will most likely dictate play with his incredible passing skills, while Sarr is there to break up opposition attacks. Thabo Rakhale and Mpho Makola should operate on the flanks. Both players play with flair and skill, drifting in behind defenders and creating space for teammates. 

Etoile du Sahel

On their way to the final, Etoile Sahel beat Benfica Luanda, Young Africans and Moroccan giants Raja Casablanca, who had knocked South Africa’s heavy weights Kaizer Chiefs out of the higher CAF Champions League in earlier rounds. They also whipped Zamalek 5-1 at home in the first leg of their semi-final. Zamalek, remember, had beaten Pirates 4-1 on their home ground during the group stages. 

Etoile du is the third-most successful club in Tunisia with nine league titles to their name, behind Esperance (26) and Club Africain (13). Sahel have also won 14 other domestic cup competitions in their 90-year history and finished fourth at the FIFA Club World Cup in 2007. In fact, Sahel won all seven matches they played at home during their Confederation Cup campaign and scored 14 goals, conceded just twice and kept five clean sheets. They are the only club in Africa to have won every iteration of every CAF-organised tournament. Diables Rouges have made a great start to their respective domestic leagues, with four victories from six matches. 

They have been fairly decent on the road with two wins from four games, but will need to be at their very best to come away with a point, let alone three. Baghdad Bounedjah made the top 10 list for the CAF African based player of the year. At 23, he’s had an impressive year for a player of his relatively young age, bagging 14 goals as he played a vital role in Etoile’s march to Tunisian Cup glory and Confederations Cup final. Bounedjah is joint top scorer in the Confederations Cup with six goals, along with CF Mounana’s Georges Ambourouet. The Algerian forward could be the key to Etoile’s performance against the South Africans.

Probable Line-ups:

Orlando Pirates: 4-4-2
Ovono; Gcaba, Nyauza, Sangweni, Matlaba; Sarr, Ntshumayelo, Rakhale, Makola; Gabuza, Erasmus

Etoile du Sahel: 4-2-3-1
Mathlouth; Abderrazak, Jemal, Aziza, Nagguez; Brigui, Trabelsi; Tej, Lahmar, Msakni; Bounedjah

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Betting Verdict: Orlando Pirates 2/1
This should be a close encounter. Etoile could take a defensive approach to the game to ensure an advantage going into the second leg, whilst Pirates will need to attack the game from the get go, but must do so with caution. A cagey affair is expected, with the Buccaneers tipped to edge the win.  

Written by Aaron Crowie for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!