Royal Leopards vs Orlando Pirates | Saturday 18 July | Somhlolo National Stadium, Lobamba | 11:00
Swaziland’s dominant force will be eager to show their quality against one of Africa’s biggest clubs. This is a pre-season tournament for three of the clubs participating, but not for Orlando Pirates, who are competing in the CAF Confederation Cup.
To Win (90mins)
Royal Leopards 13/2
Orlando Pirates 4/10
Two-time defending champions Royal Leopards have become the superpower of Swaziland football, winning the league title five times in the last ten years. After snatching the title back from Mbabane Swallows two seasons ago, winning the league by three points, Ingwe Mabalabala went on to dominate last season and win the championship by eleven points after their 22 matches. Leopards did well to advance to the knockout stages of the same CAF Confederation Cup that Pirates are in but fell at the second round. They faced Bidvest Wits in the preliminary round and managed to overcome a 3-0 loss in the first leg to win 3-0 at home and progress via a penalty shootout victory. They then ousted Angolan opposition Petro de Luanda 3-2 on aggregate by winning 1-0 away from home in the second leg. However, DR Congo’s AS Vita Club proved too much as the Swazis were humiliated 4-0 in tough conditions after winning 1-0 at home.
Orlando Pirates have had little time to rest as their PSL season was followed by the Confederation Cup. They won their opening group game against AC Leopards of Congo on the road but are coming off a disappointing 2-1 loss to Egyptian side Zamalek at Mbombela Stadium. They dominated the match but failed to put away their chances created and that ultimately cost them as Zamalek scored two late goals after substitute Lehlohonolo Majoro scored just after the hour mark.
VERDICT: Draw 28/10
Pirates might not regard this tournament as a top priority after losing to Zamalek. They have a tough away trip in Tunisia against Sfaxien to contend with next weekend and could rest some key players for this semi-final match. Leopards lost just one game all of last season, winning sixteen times and drawing on five occasions. It’s doubtful that both South African teams will win their matches in normal time for this pre-season tournament. The draw looks a good bet.