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Orlando Pirates have created a fixture headache

Orlando Pirates have a long line of fixtures. Photo: Abbas Farda/BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates have a long line of fixtures. Photo: Abbas Farda/BackpagePix

Published May 13, 2022


Johannesburg - Despite their sterling efforts to secure a grandstand finish to the Premiership season on May 21, trailblazing Orlando Pirates have forced the Premier Soccer League’s hand.

Unpredictably Pirates have reached the semi-finals of the CAF Confederation Cup and while they keep their challenge alive over the two legs, the PSL have postponed their Premiership fixtures so that they can concentrate on the continental competition.

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The first of Pirates’ outstanding three Premiership fixtures was postponed earlier this week. They were meant to play high-riding Royal AM, who are chasing the remaining CAF Champions League slot after Mamelodi Sundowns automatically clinched one spot after winning the Premiership.

On Sunday, Pirates will be playing Al Ahli Tripoli of Libya in Johannesburg in the second leg after winning the first-leg clash 2-0 in Benghazi last week. With a 2-0 advantage, Pirates have one foot firmly in the final. Pirates played their first CAF Confederation Cup final in 2015 when they were beaten by Étoile Sahel of Tunisia. The final was played over two legs at that time.

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Should Pirates not advance to the final, the PSL will start rescheduling their remaining three games.

Should Pirates win, their remaining games will be played after the final on Friday, 20 May. Apart from Royal AM, Pirates still must play Maritzburg United and SuperSport United.

The delaying of Pirates’ fixtures is unavoidable and will not affect the relegation battle, which is going down to the wire. It will however leave indecision among the Top 8 contenders since Pirates, currently in sixth place, are serious contenders for a top eight finish.

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The delay is a blow for the PSL prosecutor Zola Majavu who has worked miracles trying to solve a mountain of discipline problems before the season’s end.

By the looks of things, there are presently no Royal AM-like controversies that could drag the PSL through the courts in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, and Switzerland for weeks after the season has ended.

ALSO READ: Samir Nurkovic could be apt replacement for in demand Victor Letsoalo at Royal AM

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On Wednesday the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that the final will be played in Nigeria at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.

In the other half of the Confederation Cup draw, DR Congo’s TP Mazembe, who scored a late goal to secure a 1-0 victory over RS Berkane of Morocco last week, are favoured to reach the final.

ALSO READ: Five talking points from last weekend’s soccer action

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Meanwhile, Egyptian football giants Al-Ahly has announced that they will file a complaint to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after CAF decided to play the Champions League final in Morocco. Although the teams for the final are yet to be decided a Morocco team could likely reach the final and enjoy home advantage.

Earlier this week CAF announced that the final, to be played on 30 May, will be played at the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca.

CAF’s announcement followed an earlier appeal to CAF to play the final at a neutral venue.

There has been speculation in the media that CAF’s decision to award the final to Morocco has disappointed CAF President Patrice Motsepe. He was not in favour of the decision by his competitions committee awarding Morocco host status since a Moroccan team is in the running for a place in the final.