Bucs through to Champions League semis

Johannesburg – Orlando Pirates booked their place in the African Champions League semi-finals, despite being held to a goalless draw by Egyptian giants Al Ahly in their final match of the group stages at Orlando Stadium on Sunday.

The Buccaneers, who secured a crushing 3-0 win over Al Ahly in their first-leg clash in Cairo, dominated the entire match.

Happy Jele of Orlando Pirates (right) in action against Al Ahly at Orlando Stadium. Picture: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images. Credit: Gallo Images

While they were unable to capitalise on numerous attempts at goal, they held on to finish second in Group A.

Al Ahly, the defending champions who have won the continental competition four times in the last eight years, ended top of the group and also progressed, while fellow Egyptian side Zamalek were eliminated, along with Congolese outfit AC Leopards, who finished bottom of the group.

Pirates were relentless on attack but were wayward throughout the first half, with only one shot on target, as Al Ahly stood firm in defence.

The hosts were far more accurate in the second period, but they were repeatedly denied.

Substitute Thulisizwe Mbuyane had perhaps the best chance to secure a Bucs victory, after latching on to a through ball with 20 minutes left, but he blasted his attempt over the crossbar with his first touch of the game.

Shortly afterwards, Walid Soliman had a clear-cut opportunity for the visitors, with only Pirates keeper Senzo Meyiwa to beat, but he struck his effort narrowly wide to the left.

While Daine Klate had another close attempt for Pirates with six minutes remaining, his diving header was well saved.

Pirates, who are the only South African team to win the continental title in 1996, will face Tunisian side Esperance in next month's two-leg semi-finals. – Sapa

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