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Mandla Ncikazi, co-coach of Orlando Pirates. Picture: SAMUEL SHIVAMBU/BACKPAGEPIX
Mandla Ncikazi, co-coach of Orlando Pirates. Picture: SAMUEL SHIVAMBU/BACKPAGEPIX

Orlando Pirates have a foot in the Caf Confederation Cup final after a polished 2-0 victory in the opening away leg of their semifinal against Al Ahli Tripoli on Sunday.

Co-coach Mandla Ncikazi said he wanted at least an away goal in the first leg at Benghazi’s Martyrs of February Stadium to take to this Sunday’s second half of the tie at Orlando Stadium.

He got two, and did not have to wait long for them. Innocent Maela’s strike in the eighth minute and Goodman Mosele’s in the 29th put the Buccaneers in the driving seat after they hit a solid rhythm on the closed-ground venue’s artificial surface.

In the earlier semifinal first leg, TP Mazembe could only manage a 1-0 advantage from their home match against Morocco’s RSB Berkane.

Pirates are seeking to go better than their two continental final defeats of the past decade — against Egypt’s Al Ahly in the 2013 Caf Champions League and to Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia in the 2015 Confed Cup.

The Confed is also Bucs’ last chance of silverware in 2021/2022. Pirates, who have a strong squad, have been inconsistent under co-coaches Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids domestically. In sixth place in the Premier Soccer League, they will not make runners-up come the fast-approaching season’s end.

But in the Confed, Bucs’ flatness has been replaced by a better intensity and ability to break opposition teams down and finish chances. That was the case again in Benghazi on Sunday.

Bucs put in an improved, clinical display than in their 1-1 aggregate and penalties quarterfinal win against Tanzania’s Simba SC, especially as they notched their two goals in the opening half.

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