Mamelodi Sundowns have it easy while Orlando Pirates thrown into Africa deep end

Orlando Pirates Jose Riveiro faces the media at a press conference.

Orlando Pirates Jose Riveiro. Picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 28, 2023


Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United will enjoy some breathing space when the CAF inter-club competitions kick off next month.

Sundowns, the reigning DStv Premiership champions, and SuperSport, who finished in third place last season, will enjoy byes in the preliminary rounds.

Orlando Pirates, the Premiership runners-up, and Nedbank Cup runners-up Sekhukhune United have been thrown into the deep end, and will play CAF Confederation Cup preliminary round fixtures after playing two early-season league matches.

They will play home and away preliminary round fixtures on consecutive weekends.

Coach Jose Riveiro’s Pirates will travel just under 3 000km to the tiny Indian Ocean state of Comoros, off the coast of Mozambique, to play Djabal FC.

Sekhukhune will kick off their local season with a home fixture against Sundowns next Friday. Five days later, they travel to the Mother City to face Premiership newcomers Cape Town Spurs.

The next weekend, Sekhukhune will face a tricky CAF Confederation Cup test against Eswatini’s Young Buffaloes. They play the return leg a week later in Mbabane.

Before Pirates set off for the Comoros, they will have two local games under their belts. They open their local season in the picturesque Winelands against Stellenbosch FC on Saturday.

Three days later, they have a midweek home fixture against KZN visitors Royal AM, who will soon make headlines again when the Court of Arbitration for Sport decides the outcome of their appeal against a Fifa ruling.

Pirates played Djabal FC a decade ago, also in a Champions League clash. They romped to a 9-0 aggregate victory in 2013 en route to the final, which they narrowly lost to Egyptian titans Al Ahly.

Should Pirates despatch the Indian Ocean islanders, they will play a secondround match against the victors of the Jwaneng Galaxy (Botswana) versus Vipers (Uganda) clash.

Sundowns start out in the Champions League when they host either Gabon’s CSB or Burundi’s Bumauru, both Champions League debutants.