Striker Thamsanqa Gabuza made a scoring comeback to the Orlando Pirates starting line-up as a much-changed selection eased to a 3-1 victory over Light Stars from Seychelles in their African Champions League first round‚ second leg tie on Wednesday.
The victory earns Pirates an 8-2 aggregate success in what was a gentle return to the elite continental competition after an absence of five years and sets up a second round meeting with either African Stars of Namibia or Volcan Club from the Comoros‚ who are in action in Windhoek later on.
The first leg of that tie ended 0-0.
Neither of those sides should present much opposition and Pirates will be heavy favourites to advance to the group stages starting in January.
It was a first appearance in a Buccaneers shirt for Gabuza since he stormed off the pitch in a 2-1 victory over Black Leopards in August‚ unhappy at the treatment he had received from the crowd.
He netted the second goal for the visitors and also had a hand in the third as his shot was fumbled by the home goalkeeper‚ allowing Abel Mabaso to net from the rebound.
It was a comprehensive victory for Pirates‚ who led 1-0 at the break after Linda Mntambo had given them the lead. Mabaso’s goal was his first for the club‚ while Mntambo ensured he scored in both legs against Light Stars.
Coach Micho Sredojevic made 10 changes to his side‚ with captain Mpho Makola the only survivor from the 0-0 league draw with Maritzburg United at the weekend.
With possibly both eyes on the Telkjom Knockout final against Baroka FC at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday‚ Sredojevic left most of his top players at home‚ with the 5-1 first leg victory giving him the leeway to do so.
It meant rare starts this season for Kuda Mahachi‚ Thabo Qalinge‚ Abbubaker Mobara and Mthokozisi Dube. Pirates were winners of Africa’s elite club competition in 1995 and also made the final in 2013‚ where they lost to Al Ahly.