Orlando Pirates resume their CAF Champions League campaign against AC Leopards from Congo-Brazzaville in the eight-team group stages, at Orlando Stadium tomorrow night.
Roger de Sa’s charges are fresh from a break and will hold their final training session this evening ahead of the crucial encounter.
But the Buccaneers will go into the match without suspended captain Lucky Lekgwathi and Patrick Phungwayo.
After ending the 2012/13 domestic campaign with lacklustre performances, the pressure is on Pirates to get their campaign off to a good start.
“We will be prepared for Saturday,” De Sa said this week as he studied his unknown opponents.
“We will have to make use of playing at home and look for an early goal to unsettle them.”
There has been a shake-up at their Soweto camp after the recent retirement of striker Benni McCarthy and the departure of stalwart keeper Moeneeb Josephs.
Pirates team manager Williams Okpara confirmed new signing striker Lennox Bacela and the injury-recovered Rooi Mahamutsa were now registered with CAF for the tournament.
“Rooi will wear number 24, while Lennox has been registered to wear the number 9 jersey,” Okpara said.
Pirates are still crippled by key injuries to Bafana Bafana’s defender Siyabonga Sangweni and central midfielder Andile Jali.
The 1995 African champions are searching for a perfect start at home in the opening Group A tie.
The (The Beasts from Niari) Leopards’ statistics indicate they are not good travellers but are often hard to beat at their home venue Stade Denis Sassou Nguesso, in Dolisie, Congo-Brazzaville.
Also in Group A are the Egyptian giants and perennial competition favourites Zamalek and Al Ahly, who have the disadvantage of playing their home matches at a neutral venue.
This gives Pirates a slight edge to progress past the group stages in their chase for the approximately R15 million prize money for the competition winners.
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