Last February, 56 champion teams from across the African continent started on the road that leads to the CAF Champions League semi-finals this weekend. Orlando Pirates face Esperance in one of the games while Coton Sport take on Al Ahly in the second encounter, in the two legged affairs.
It’s widely thought that Esperance and Al Ahly are the favourites to reach the two-legged final in November, given their excellent records in the Champions League. The winner of the competition will then get the chance to compete in December’s Fifa World Club Cup in Morocco.
Bucs are the only team from Southern Africa to have won the Champions League, however it’s been 18 years since they last did so and they have a big challenge ahead of them in the form of the formidable Esperance.
Besides Bucs, Mamelodi Sundowns and Zimbabwean club Dynamos are the only teams from the Southern part of Africa to have advanced to the final.
Bucs’ opponents are 25-time Tunisian league champions and they have won the Champions League on two occasions.
However, Pirates have performed very well against North African teams in the competition so far and stand every chance of getting a win over the two legs.
If they were to advance to the two-legged final and go on to win their second star, all roads could lead to the World Club Championship in December for Roger de Sa’s charges.
Getting the chance to play in such a high profile tournament against some of the best teams in the world will no doubt be an incentive for Pirates.
The first step of this journey begins on Saturday at 19h00 against Esperance at Orlando Stadium.