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Orlando Pirates to play ‘away’ Caf game at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit

21 February 2022 - 14:09 By MARK GLEESON
Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Image: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images

Orlando Pirates will have good news as they head home from Sunday’s African Confederation Cup defeat in Libya — their next match in the competition away in Eswatini this coming weekend is to be played in Nelspruit.

Pirates’ third match in Group B is against giant-killers Royal Leopard who caused a shock in the previous knockout round by eliminating last season’s runners-up JS Kabylie and booking themselves a first-ever place in the group phase.

The Swazi police side are unable to host matches in the kingdom because of a lack of facilities.

The Somhlolo Stadium is still being renovated despite promises that work would be completed by December, while the Mavuso Sports Centre, which has been an alternate to the country’s main venue, was found by the Confederation of African Football to lack basic requirements to host continental club competition group matches.

Its changerooms are too small and it does not have proper benches or decent floodlight capacity, said a report.

As a result, Royal Leopard were told to find an alternate venue and after considering Mozambique, have picked the Mbombela Stadium, where they will pay reportedly R75,000 hire for each of the three "home" games, starting with this Sunday’s clash against Pirates.

Leopard were supposed to host Al Ittihad of Libya in their opening Group B game on February 13, but because of the venue problems that match was postponed to March 6, meaning their weekend trip to Algeria, where they lost 2-0 to JS Saoura on Sunday, was their group debut.

Pirates beat JS Saoura at the Orlando Stadium one week earlier, but lost 3-2 in Benghazi to Al Ittihad on Sunday and are in a three-way tie at the top of the standings.

The Buccaneers will have been targeting six points home and away against the side from Eswatini and not having to cross borders for the two matches is a boost to their aspirations.

But they must be mindful that Royal Leopard eliminated Bidvest Wits in the same competition seven years ago.



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