Orlando Pirates face Esperance in the Caf Champions League first leg semi-final on Saturday, 5 October. Bucs will host the Tunisian giants at Orlando Stadium in a clash which has captured the imagination of South African fans across the country.
The visiting Blood and Gold boast a side loaded with top talent and coach Maher Kanzari’s charges appear to have the pedigree to win the competition. Esperance were crowned champions of Africa in 2011 after defeating Moroccan outfit, Wydad Casablanca.
They were the losing finalists in the tournament last year as they lost 3-2 to Egyptian powerhouses, Al-Ahly. One of the players that Bucs may need to look out for is Esperance’s potentially lethal hit-man, Ahmed Akaichi.
The 6ft1 forward has been in prolific form of late and has scored three goals in his last three appearances for the club. Earlier in his career he also banged in 25 goals in 40 appearances for his previous side, Etoile Sportive du Sahel.
Ahead of the game, the threat that Akaichi posed was alluded to by Esperance coach, Kanzari, on the club’s official website.
He said, "I will keep the backbone of the team and I shall not be making many changes. There is one player who stands out in recent matches and that is Akaichi. He remains a formidable striker who can make the difference at any time.”