Orlando Pirates are like day and night

As the Orlando Pirates passed Al-Ahli Tripoli in Libya on Sunday and stood on the verge of reaching the final of the Caf Confederation Cup, one was struck once again by the contrast between the continental form of the Buccaneers this season and a nationwide campaign that has virtually gone absolutely nowhere.

READ ALSO: Pirates manager Ncikazi warns that draw against Tripoli is not over despite two-goal lead

The Buccaneers won 2-0 in the away first leg semi-final, but it could have been so much more, had it not been for some outstanding saves from Ahli goalkeeper Muhammad Nashnoush.

Barring a spectacular collapse in Orlando this Sunday, the Buccaneers will be in their first continental final since 2015, when they were beaten by Tunisian Etoile du Sahel in the final of the same competition.

The Pirates have scored 21 goals in 12 games so far in this season’s Confederation Cup, including the preliminary rounds, and a rampant campaign in the group stage, in which they have scored 15 goals in six games.

In this season’s DStv Premiership, the Pirates have only scored 28 goals in 27 games, a surprising contrast, if you can excuse the pun.

It’s hard to say why pirates seemed so capable in Africa and so mediocre on the local scene.

It could to some extent be traced back to the quality of the opposition. It would be hard to argue that Swaziland’s Royal Leopards, for example, that the Pirates have scored nine goals in two group stage games, are better than many, and perhaps all, Premiership teams.

And then there’s simply the different style of play in continental play that Gavin Hunt talked about as the Kaizer Chiefs made their way to the Caf Champions League final last season.

Hunt always said that the pace of play in the Champions League seemed to suit his team better than the jaw-dropping nature of the Premiership.

Chiefs, of course, flirted with relegation last season, making it so bad that Hunt was fired before Chiefs could reach the Champions League final. For Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids, at the helm of Pirates, it wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t good either, by any stretch of the imagination.

Just nine wins in 27 league games are frightening, for a team with the quality Ncikazi and Davids have at their disposal, and as it stands, it seems unlikely that they will qualify for CAF competitions by virtue of their Premiership position.

The Pirates are hoping the similarities with the Chiefs will end if they reach the Confederation Cup final, as Amakhosi was beaten in the Champions League final by Pitso Mosimane’s Al-Ahly.

The Buccaneers could do without a trophy to put in their dusty locker, in the midst of a silverware drought that has only seen MTN8 2020 for the past eight seasons.

The Pirates, to their credit, have always enjoyed competition in Africa, the first South African team to win the Champions League (1995), finalist again in 2013 and finalist of the Confederation Cup in 2015.

Winning this trophy could simply rekindle the Buccaneers in the Premiership next season that is missing,