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Pirates avoid big guns but still handed tough Confed Cup group stage draw

Tiisetso Malepa Sports reporter
Orlando Pirates' German coach Josef Zinnbauer will take his team to the north and west of the continent as they search for continental glory.
Orlando Pirates' German coach Josef Zinnbauer will take his team to the north and west of the continent as they search for continental glory.
Image: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates avoided the big guns in the Caf Confederation Cup group stage but were still handed a relatively tough grouping during a draw conducted in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Monday.

Pirates will make two exacting trips to the north of the continent and another tough one to the west after the draw pitted them in Group A against ES Setif of Algeria‚ Ahli Benghazi of Libya and Nigerian powerhouses Enyimba.

The Buccaneers romped into the group stages with a 4-0 aggregate win over Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy in the last playoff round of matches at the weekend.

It is a group teeming with clubs with continental prestige with former African champions as Enyimba‚ Setif and Pirates have five Caf Champions League crowns between them‚ while Ahly Benghazi are expected to be the whipping boys of the group.

The group stage of the Confederation Cup is scheduled to commence between March 10 and April 28‚ while the final takes place on July 10.

Kick-off times and match venues will be released by tournament organisers in due course.

The Buccaneers find themselves back in the competition that they reached the finals of six years ago when they lost 2-1 on aggregate to Tunisian heavyweights Etoile du Sahel.

Pirates' south African neighbours and debutants Napsa Stars of Zambia will do battle with title-holders Berkane from Morocco‚ Coton Sport from Cameroon and Algeria’s JS Kabylie in Group B.

Tunisian giants CS Sfaxien‚ Salitas FC of Burkina Faso and Senegalese outfit ASC Les Jaraaf are in Group C and will be joined by either Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) or Young Buffaloes (Eswatini).

Another Zambian side‚ Nkana FC‚ were grouped in the last pool in Group D against Raja Casablanca from Morocco‚ Egypt’s Pyramids FC and either Namungo FC from Tanzania or Angola’s Primeiro de Agosto.

Pirates first trip will be to the Stade 8 Mai in Algeria for a confrontation with ES Setif before returning home to renew the South Africa-Nigeria rivalry when they host Enyimba.

Josef Zinnbauer’s men will then return to north Africa to face Ahly‚ who will probably play this match at a neutral venue due to security concerns in Libya‚ before hosting the Benghazi outfit in back-to-back clashes.

They will conclude the group stage campaign with a home encounter against ES Setif before travelling to Algeria.

Group A:

Orlando Pirates (RSA)‚ Enyimba FC (Nigeria)‚ ES Setif (Algeria)‚ Ahli Benghazi (Libya)

Group B:

Berkane (Morocco)‚ JS Kabylie (Algeria)‚ Coton Sport (Cameroon)‚ NAPSA Stars (Zambia)

Group C:

Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) / Young Buffaloes (Eswatini) / Young Buffaloes (Eswatini)‚ CS Sfaxien (Tunisia)‚ Salitas FC (Burkina Faso)‚ ASC Les Jaraaf (Senegal)

Group D:

Raja (Morocco)‚ Pyramids FC (Egypt)‚ Nkana FC (Zambia)‚ Namungo FC (Tanzania) / Primeiro de Agosto (Angola)