JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates will have to throw the kitchen sink at Horoya Athletic Club when the two teams clash in Conakry, Guinea, in order to progress to the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League.
The Bucs are third in Group B and desperately in need of a win against Horoya in the last round of group stage if they are to reach the last eight of the competition to become the second team in the group to achieve that feat, after defending champions Esperance did so with a game to spare.
It will, however, be an uphill struggle for the Sea Robbers considering that the Guineans have been lethal at home - winning 14 of their last 20 matches, while their last loss was in 2014.
On the other hand, they do not have an impressive away record in continental football, as they could only manage seven wins in their last 20 outings, including recent wins against African Stars and Light Stars in the preliminary stages of this season’s competition.
But Bucs will look no further than their technical team to guide them to the “Promised Land”.
Coach Milutin Sredojevic has an impressive CV that has seen him coach in Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda and Ethiopia.
And he guided the team to the 2006 semi-finals during his first stint with the club.
Add to that, his deputy, Rhulani Mokwena, was part of Mamelodi Sundowns’ technical team that delivered them continental glory in 2016. Now in Pirates’ camp, Mokwena will be hoping to join his former employers in the last eight of the competition after the Brazilians sealed their spot courtesy of a 3-0 win over Lobi Stars at Lucas Masterpieces Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday night.
But the Pirates duo won’t be able to steer the team to victory without the commitment of their players.
It was rather unappealing to see them on the back foot against the group’s minnows, FC Platinum, hence being forced to salvage a late 2-2 draw in the penultimate round at Orlando Stadium on Friday night.
With the posts looking to be in safe hands with goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, the Sea Robbers’ strikers have to bring their scoring boots and ensure that they hit top gear from the outset if they are going to advance to the knockout stages.
Augustine Mulenga and the in-form Thembinkosi Lorch got Pirates’ double in their last encounter, but Horoya’s defence will be wary of Justin Shonga, who registered a brace the last time these two teams met at Orlando.
What also propels the Bucs to win this encounter is that this competition is one of only two ways that they can claim a piece of silverware as the Absa Premiership title race is intensifying by the day.
But a full week of rest will give them enough time to plan their winning strategy against the Guineans.@Mihlalibaleka