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Pirates carrying SA hopes

The Bucs take on Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the first leg of the CAF Champions League final.

"Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula being handeed a orlando Pirates jersey. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates will carry the hopes of an expectant nation when they take on Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the first leg of the CAF Champions League final.

The game will be played on Saturday at the home of South African football, Orlando Stadium.

Kickoff is at 8:30pm.

The Buccaneers are attempting to win their second continental title following their initial win in 1995 while Al Ahly is looking to add to their record seven titles.

The game between the two sides will be the third in the competition this season.

The first meeting, the second game of the group stages, saw Pirates beat the Egyptians 3-0 in El-Gouna Stadium in Egypt.

Their second meeting was the final group game in Orlando which finished 0-0.

Despite their unbeaten record against Al Ahly this season, Bucs coach Roger de Sa still sees his team as the underdogs.

"I honestly believe that they are favorites. I think we've got a 50/50 chance without a doubt. But I think when you look at where they've been and what they've done in this competition so we've got to be at our best. They're a special side. There's no doubt about it but we've got our strengths. We've got a couple of things up our sleeves that we've got to play out there and do the best we can."

The achievements of the team have been praised by President Jacob Zuma, who has sent his well wishes ahead of the game.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has also lavished praised on the team ahead of the final.

He has told the players that they are not only "representing South Africa but the whole of Southern Africa".

Egyptian striker Mohammed Aboutrika will retire from football after the Champions League final and speaking about the player Pirates midfielder Daine Klate has praised his achievements.

"He is a phenomenal player. Coming up against him the first time I was standing next to him in awe. Thinking I'll be coming up against him. You could see the touches that he had, they were elegant. He's been exceptional."

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