Mpho Makola scored with a stunning free kick for Orlando Pirates against Light Stars on Wednesday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – This was the kind of statement Orlando Pirates wanted to make on their return to the CAF Champions League scene since 2013, making the 5-1 triumph a solid victory good enough to see them through to the next round.

Pirates will travel to Seychelles for the return leg next week to try to finish off Light Stars, a side they ran rings around on Wednesday night.

That should make sure the second match is reduced to a training session as they have the Telkom Knockout final to switch their attention to on December 8, against Baroka FC in Port Elizabeth.

If ball possession counted for anything, then the Buccaneers should have hit double figures in this preliminary round fixture.

But it wasn’t easy as it first appeared to find the back of the net.

In fact, the visitors took a surprise lead in the 18th minute when striker Mario Ravo struck, after finding himself completely unmarked and through on goal to beat goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane.

To their credit, Pirates didn’t put their heads down, and were almost immediately back on level terms when Thabo Qalinge scored the equaliser seven minutes later.

By then, the hosts had missed an avalanche of chances – something that would have come back to haunt them in the return match, and forced them to alter their plans of taking a weakened sided to Seychelles.

Pirates were really expected to win this at a canter given the calibre of the opposition, who are mostly part-time footballers and simply play for the love of the game and not the prestige or the money in the sport.

In the end they did, but they made heavy duty of it.

They did, however, take the lead through Augustine Mulenga and then Mpho Makola – making a rare appearance for Pirates and scoring an exquisite free kick on the stroke of half time – but struggled to add to that tally in the second until referee’s optional time.  

It shouldn’t be that difficult for the Buccaneers to go away and win the second leg to progress to the first round of the Champions League with this result.

It would have been a tricky score-line had Justin Shonga not come off the bench to increase the lead to four, and then Linda Mntambo also got on the score-sheet to make it 5-1.

Light Stars’ away goal isn’t such a threat anymore.  

Pirates coach Micho Sredojevic will still most likely use players who are considered to be on the fringes at the club this season as he rests the key players for the cup final a few days later.


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