Sunday, 15 September 2013

Why Pirates MUST win on Sunday - the African Champions League Group A permutations are all here

Final fling: For Roger de Sa's Pirates

ORLANDO PIRATES looked so comfortable at the halfway stage in Group A of the African Champions League it appeared they couldn’t fail to reach the semi-finals, with real hopes of a second star growing.

It was an incredible start for Roger de Sa’s Buccaneers, having garnered SEVEN points in their first three games with a mediocre draw against Congo’s first-time champions AC Leopards in Orlando followed by two incredible wins against Egyptian giants Al Ahly 3-0 away and Zamalek 4-1 at home.

Sadly, things have gone badly wrong since those heady days. Saturday’s 1-0 defeat on a cabbage patch in Dolisie comes after the 1-2 Al-Gouna reverse against Al Ahly. And with one game to play - against African champions Al Ahly at Orlando on Sunday - they STILL have just those seven points.

De Sa, with distant memories of those early qualifying wins over Zanaco and TP Mazembe now fading, remains defiant: “Look, we finish against Al Ahly on Sunday on a proper pitch, where we will get to play some football. And the message is: All is not lost. We are still in this.

“It was always going to be tough – the conditions weren’t good. You saw the pitch and what you see on TV is far from what we actually experience.

“We’re disappointed to lose but it was very trying. We attempted to string some passes together on a very bumpy pitch but it wasn’t easy, the plan had to be changed. We had to adapt as best we could. My boys did their best - you can’t fault them for effort.”

And with Sunday’s Egyptian derby producing a 4-2 defeat for reigning African champions Al Ahly over Zamalek behind closed doors, the permutations in Group A appear incredibly complicated with Pirates and Leopards both on seven points, three behind the Al Ahly.

But the simple truth is this: Pirates MUST win against Al Ahly on Sunday to qualify for the semi-finals. That guarantees a place in the last four, no matter what Leopards do against the now hopeless Zamalek in Egypt (the games are supposed to kick off simultaneously).

Similarly, a defeat against Al Ahly in Orlando puts Pirates OUT, even if Leopards LOSE at Zamalek – because the Congolese have a better head-to-head record against the Sea Robbers, having drawn with them away and beaten them at home.

The most complicated scenario for Pirates involves a draw. That will also put them out – unless Leopards lose their final match. A win puts the Congo champions through on points in second place, a draw puts them through on head-to-head against Pirates.

The background to all this is complicated, because the CAF Champions League uses a head-to-head system ahead of goal difference as their primary discriminator.

For instance, the Pirates win scenario could leave THREE sides tied on ten points if Leopards win too. But because Leopards are better than Pirates on head-to-head and Al Ahly have the advantage over Leopards but not Pirates, the top three would then form a mini-league with Roger’s men on top with seven points. Al Ahly would have 6, Leopards 4 with results against Zamalek ignored.

A three-team mini-league would also put Pirates out if they lose and Zamalec win, allowing AC Leopards to qualify.

If Pirates top the group with a final win, they will play Cameroon’s Coton Sport, who finished second in Group B after a 0-0 draw at Sewe San Pedro in the Ivory Coast. Tunisia’s Esperance, ACL finalists last year, top the group after beating Angola’s Recreativo Libolo – who put Pirates out last year - 3-2.


Group A
TEAMS
P
W
D
L
F
A
PTS
AL AHLY (EGYPT, holders)
5
3
1
1
8
7
10
ORLANDO PIRATES (SOUTH AFRICA)
5
2
1
2
8
4
7
 AC LEOPARDS (CONGO)
5
2
1
2
3
3
7
ZAMALEK (EGYPT)
5
1
1
3
6
11
4


Group B

TEAMS
P
W
D
L
F
A
PTS
ESPERANCE (Tunisia)
5
4
0
1
7
3
12
COTON SPORT DE GAROUA (Cameroon)
5
2
2
1
4
4
8
SEWE SPORT (IVORY COAST)
5
1
1
3
3
4
4
RECREATIVO LIBOLO (ANGOLA)
5
1
1
3
6
9
4

I have asked Roger de Sa if he will appear on BOLLOCKZ! my show on www.ballz.co.za this week, it airs every Thursday from 10am-noon. 


You can also follow me on www.twitter.com/nealcol for all the latest sports news… and read my “Neal & Pray” column every Tuesday in www.thenewage.co.za.


BOLLOCKZ! is backed by www.topodds.com - have a look at their site for my latest sports betting advice!

3 comments:

  1. How would the mini league work then Neal? Who plays who, when and how would the two semi-finalists be decided?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The winner of Group A plays the runner-up of Group B and vice versa.

      Delete
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