Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates have left themselves with plenty to do in their quest for a second star after their fairly rank goalless home draw with Esperance in their African Champions League semi-final first leg on Saturday.
Should the Buccaneers fail to win a first continental title since 1995, they will have absolutely no cause to blame either the Premier Soccer League or the SA Football Association.
Bafana coach Gordon Igesund has named only Kermit Erasmus from the Buccaneers for South Africa’s friendly against Morocco on Friday, to give Pirates all the time they need to prepare for the second leg in Tunis on October 19.
The PSL, meanwhile, have been falling over themselves to accommodate Pirates’ bid, moving fixtures around like it is going out of fashion.
The irony is that the further Pirates progress in this competition, the more fixture mayhem it is likely to cause. Currently, the Buccaneers have played just two Absa Premiership matches, three fewer than any other side.
Pirates’ next scheduled league fixture is for Wednesday October 23, at home to Tuks, just four days after the continental semi-final second leg. The way the league has been operating, that game could be postponed.
After that, on October 26, Pirates are free to play their Soweto derby against Kaizer Chiefs. Amazingly, given that Pirates have not played much domestically, this will be the fourth Soweto derby of the season before November, if we dare to include the Carling Black Label Cup.
But it is after this, if Pirates do make the Champions League final, that true potential chaos ensues. The league’s next fixtures for Pirates are November 6 and November 10, which have absolutely no chance of happening if the Buccaneers are playing for African glory. Neither will Pirates be able to play in the semi-finals of the Telkom Knockout, if they get there, set for the weekend of November 1-3. After all, the two legs of the Champions League final are scheduled for that weekend and the weekend of November 8-10.
After this comes a Fifa international break, meaning Pirates might not play a league game, after the derby, until November 24. It gets even crazier if Pirates win the Champions League and qualify for the World Club Championships in Morocco from December 11-21.
There are another three Buccaneers league games that could potentially be postponed in December. One cannot blame the league for helping Pirates, or a fixture list in line with Fifa’s calendar, and not the Confederation of African Football’s. But how they resolve the madness of a potential Pirates fixture jam will be interesting to see.