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Pirates return to revive Africa mission

Maritzburg first in three fixtures Bucs need to qualify for CAF

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Dejected Orlando Pirates players after losing to RS Berkane on penalties during the CAF Confederation Cup 2021/22 Final.
Dejected Orlando Pirates players after losing to RS Berkane on penalties during the CAF Confederation Cup 2021/22 Final.
Image: Kabiru Abubakar/BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates will be hoping to boost their chances of qualifying for continental football again next season when they take on Maritzburg United in the first of the three games they are left with at Orlando Stadium tonight (7.30pm).

Pirates find themselves with a fixture backlog as a result of reaching the CAF Confederation Cup final, where they lost to Moroccan side RS Berkane on penalties on Friday, a day before the DStv Premiership campaign was official wrapped-up.

After Maritzburg, the Buccaneers travel to fellow continental football hopefuls Royal AM on Friday, before finally concluding their season on Monday away to SuperSport United.

Winning all these remaining games with at least combined eight unanswered goals will see Pirates finish as runners-up and qualify for Champions League. Pirates would also finish third and earn a Confed Cup spot if they manage seven points from these three games, provided their goal difference becomes better than that of Stellenbosch, who're currently third on the table.

Despite the fact that they're basically playing for nothing, as they've already avoided relegation and have no chance to sneak into the top-right, Maritzburg defender Clayton Daniels has insinuated they'll not let Pirates walk all over them. Daniels revealed their aim was to finish 10th.

"We can finish the season on a high note. We want to finish the season strong because there's a possibility that we can finish 10th, that's something we'll be playing for. We want to put the club in a better position,'' said Daniels, who has featured 15 times for the Team of Choice in the league thus far this term.

Having blundered in the Confed Cup final, Pirates are desperate to sooth their fans by at least winning these three games. However, it's believed that even claiming maximum points against Maritzburg, Royal and SuperSport won't be enough for co-coach Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids to be retained.

The name of four-time league winner Gavin Hunt has in the past few days been linked to the Pirates coaching job.

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