It’s CAF Champions League weekend and for some clubs, it is their final chance in the group stages to fight for a victory to progress to the quarter-final round.
Mamelodi Sundowns have already qualified after their 3-0 win last weekend against Lobi Stars. They travel away this time around against Group A leaders, Wydad Casablanca. A win in Morocco would take Downs to first place and secure them a home fixture in the second leg of their quarterfinal game.
However, the same sentiments cannot be shared for fellow South African club, Orlando Pirates. The Buccaneers are treading on thin ice as they go into a must-win match against Horoya in Guinea. This is going to be a mountain to climb for Milutin Sredojevic and his charges, however, if Pirates still have ambitions of regaining the status on the African continent, they will have to pull off all the stops to ensure that they over this hurdle.
Former Golden Arrows midfielder, Bonang Ngaka gets in on the following games and makes his predictions. Do you agree with his choices?
Match of the Week
Horoya v Orlando Pirates (CAF Champions League)
Match 1 Soccer 6 Pool March 16 S6 V2 P2
League Rankings: Horoya 2nd (Ligue 1) & Orlando Pirates 1st (Premier Soccer League)
Useful facts: It’s a must-win game for Orlando Pirates if they are to realise their ambitions of qualifying for the CAF Champions League knockout stages. The South African side will be well aware that it’s going to be a mountain to climb in what will be tough challenges in Guinea against a side that will be looking to progress to the quarterfinals of the competition for the second year in a row. The home side will also have revenge on their minds, having suffered a 3-0 loss to the Buccaneers in their first meeting at Orlando Stadium. Pirates must surely be kicking themselves after failing to capitalise when they faced FC Platinum, following Horoya’s 2-0 loss to Esperance last Friday. This should be an interesting game in that the home side already know that the visitors will go on an all-out attack in search of the goals to aid their quest, and could look to frustrate the Soweto giants all afternoon – but one defensive error could seal it for Bucs!
Bonang Ngaka: Orlando Pirates win
FC Platinum v ES Tunis (CAF Champions League)
Match 2 Soccer 6 Pool March 16 S6 V2 P2
League Rankings: FC Platinum 1st (Premier Soccer League) & ES Tunis 1st (Ligue 1)
Useful facts: FC Platinum are already out of the competition despite giving a credible performance against Orlando Pirates last Friday and they are merely playing for pride and to prepare for the next edition later this year, for which they have qualified. Nonetheless, they will look to end off on a positive note in front of their home fans and could walk away with the victory, seeing Esperance has already qualified and may rest some of the vital members of their squad. This game is a dead rubber in every sense of the word, as no result will change either team’s standing on the table. When the two teams met in January, the Tunisian outfit bagged a 2-0 win.
Bonang Ngaka: Esperance win
Wydad Casablanca v Mamelodi Sundowns (CAF Champions League)
Match 6 Soccer 6 Pool March 16 S6 V2 P2
League Rankings: Wydad Casablanca 1st (Botola Pro) & Mamelodi Sundowns 2nd (Premier Soccer League)
Useful facts: With Mamelodi Sundowns having already qualified for the quarterfinals after making light work of beating Lobi Stars last weekend, it will be interesting to see how Pitso Mosimane approaches this encounter. Will he go for broke hoping to secure top spot and therefore have the advantage of a quarterfinal second leg at home, or will he rest some of his key players as they still pursue the league title? It remains to be seen, but what’s as clear as daylight is that games between the two sides always live up to expectation. It’s a grudge match of note as well, as Downs beat Wydad Casablanca 2-1 in their earlier fixture in Pretoria, with a lot of heated words exchanged after the match. Wydad will go for the kill, with their notoriously vociferous home crowd behind them, knowing that anything less than a win could see them exiting the competition, depending on the result between ASEC Mimosas and Lobi Stars.
Bonang Ngaka: Mamelodi Sundowns win