Orlando Pirates have made life difficult for themselves after being held to a 1-1 draw at home by the visiting Raja Casablanca in the CAF Confederation Cup first leg quarter-finals on Sunday.
By failing to register a win in their home turn, Pirates now face a tall order to outwit Raja when they lock horns in the second leg in two weeks’ time in Morocco.
The home side went into the game on the back of an unimpressive domestic display, playing out a goalless stalemate away to Stellenbosch FC.
Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer made changes to the lineup on Sunday’s game, handing starts to Bongani Sam, Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Ben Motshwari, Vincent Pule and Fortune Makaringe.
From the onset, the Buccaneers showed they wanted to bury the visitors by attacking with Wayde Jooste and Deon Hotto attacking the most in the early stages.
Hotto almost gave the home side the lead but his side-footed shot grazed goalkeeper Anas Zniti’s goal post.
Pirates got their just rewards when Pule latched onto a pass following a poor defensive clearance and coolly slotted in five minutes before the break.
The Green Eagles, as Raja are affectionately known, tried to stage an immediate comeback after halftime but Thulani Hlatshwayo and Nyauza protected their goalkeeper, Wyane Sandilands, very well.
They were caught flat-footed in the 60th minute when Nyauza mistimed a header and striker Ben Malango connected inside the box and levelled the score.
The visitors were hard done by the referee as the hand of Raja’s Nyauza touched the ball inside the box, but the middle man waved play on.
The Bucs coach used all of his five subs but the elusive second goal never came. Amongst those who came on included Thembinkosi Lorch, who has been missing from action for a month now.
Pirates had a chance to steal the match in the dying minutes but Mapaseka Mako’s attempt was thwarted by Zniti, and Raja held on until the final whistle.
Picture source: @orlandopirates