CAF Preview: How will the ‘Big Three’ fare in Africa?

CAF Preview: How will the ‘Big Three’ fare in Africa?

Three of the greatest South African football powerhouses will participate in continental competitions. Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns continue their quest for Africa’s most coveted crown which they have won once apiece while Kaizer Chiefs will be competing in the CAF Confederations Cup.

Who are they facing? Well, the Brazilians travel to Nigeria to face Lobi Stars, the mighty Buccaneers are away to Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum, while the Glamour Boys visit Namibia to clash with ZESCO United. Let’s take a closer look at how the ‘big three’ will fare:

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Friday 11 January

Lobi Stars 5/2  
Draw 18/10 
Mamelodi Sundowns 13/10 
(18:00)

Lobi Stars have been one of the teams to watch in Nigeria over the last two years or so. They won last year’s league title, which was their second in history, breaking a 19-year drought. The Ortom Boys once again top the table this season after 24 games and they’re two points clear of second-placed Akwa United.

Their recent form has, however, not been impressive as they head into this encounter off the back of two consecutive league loses. They also lack experience in the CAF Champions League as they crashed out at this stage in their only appearance 19 years ago. They also haven’t progressed beyond the second round of the CAF Confederations Cup in their three appearances. 

Mamelodi Sundowns head into this one off the back of a morale-boosting 2-1 victory over Kaizer Chiefs this past weekend. Anthony Laffor was among the goalscorers and we know what he is capable of in this competition as his form inspired the Brazilians to their 2016 trophy triumph.  He started alongside Jeremy Brockie who became the 2017 CAF Confederations Cup top goalscorer with SuperSport United.

The only cause for concern is Denis Onyango’s injury as Kennedy Mweene has been shaky in goals. The defence has also recently not been impressive when it comes to defending set-pieces. This will be a daunting trip to the Nigerian log leaders but I think their experience will see them through. Put your money on Sundowns.

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Saturday 12 January

FC Platinum 14/10 
Draw 26/10 
Orlando Pirates 18/10 
(15:00)
The current Zimbabwean champions have been impressive over the last two seasons. To give you an idea how good they are, they only lost four of their 34 league games last season. They have recently signed former Kaizer Chiefs winger, Edmore Chirambadare, who knows a thing or two about Orlando Pirates.

They have taken the game to Barbourfields Stadium in the capital city which is known for hosting big games. The club travelled to Bulawayo on Tuesday to familiarise itself with the conditions and I’m expecting fans to come in numbers.

Orlando Pirates played out to a 2-2 draw against Highlands Park this past weekend and they’ll play Chippa United in midweek before they travel to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Thembinkosi Lorch continued his impressive scoring form in that game but Justin Shonga was once again poor in front of goals.

It shall be interesting to see if Kudakwashe Mahachi who scored an equaliser in the 2-2 draw starts in his home country. This is a very hectic period for the Buccaneers and coaches have to be very careful about managing the workload without disrupting winning combinations. This will be a tough game away from home but the Buccaneers should have enough quality to outclass the Zimbabweans.


Sunday 13 January

ZESCO United 5/4 
Draw 21/10 
Kaizer Chiefs 49/20 
(15:00)

ZESCO United have won the Zambian league four times in the last five years and they will be famously remembered for reaching the 2016 CAF Champions League semi-finals where they lost on goal away goals rule to eventual champions, Mamelodi Sundowns.

Striker, Lazarous Kambole, is in sizzling form and was tipped by many to win the Zambian Player of the Year award before being pipped by Idriss Mbobo to the accolade. The ZESCO talisman will be remembered for a quick hat-trick he scored against Mbabane Swallows.
Kaizer Chiefs lost their first game of 2019 as they succumbed 2-1 to Mamelodi Sundowns due to a goalkeeping error by Virgil Vries. Speaking of the goalkeeping department, they’re still without injured Itumeleng Khune who is out for the rest of the season.

Up front, they have Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro who won the CAF Champions League with Sundowns in 2016 and their continental experience will come in handy. In fact, Billiat scored in the 2-2 aggregate scoreline against ZESCO which saw Sundowns advance on away goals rule. Amakhosi should reign supreme here.


TREBLE @ 21/1
Mamelodi Sundowns Win 13/10
Orlando Pirates Win 18/10
Kaizer Chiefs Win 49/20

Written by Benedict Ngwenya