Johannesburg – In the second round of the CAF Confederation Cup preliminary qualifiers, Orlando Pirates could only salvage a goalless draw with Diables Noirs in the first away leg at the Stade Alphonse Massamba-Debat on Friday afternoon.
In order to keep their chances of qualifying for the group stage alive, the Buccaneers will need to win at home in the return leg next Sunday. The Bucs will be disappointed by Friday’s result as that was their second successive draw in all competitions.
After a disappointing outing in the domestic campaign recently, bagging a point out of a possible six, Pirates were looking to turn their fortunes around in continental football as their quarter-final stage finish last term was not good enough.
Co-coach Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids made a host of changes to the team that last drew with Cape Town City away, with fringe players getting a rare appearance. But perhaps their notable inclusion was in the heartbeat of their defence.
After arriving with much fanfare from Maritzburg United during pre-season, Kwanda Mngonyama finally made his debut for the Buccaneers away to Noirs. He was in good company, with captain Happy Jele holding his hand in their defence.
Jele was in beast mode in Pirates defensive heartbeat to an extent that he made crucial blocks and tackles in the game. Pirates, though, will be disappointed with their striking unit that created little scoring chances on the day.
Despite what Pirates termed as a “frantic first half”, they will be disappointed with the fact that they were on the backfoot. Striker Tshegofatso Mabasa needed to redeem himself especially after a disappointing outing for Bafana in Ethiopia.
Pirates started the second half with much vigour, looking for the opener. But they escaped a scare after Jele passed a concussion test after sustaining a kick on his head while attempting to clear out a dangerous ball with his head early on.
In the end, though, neither of the two teams could find the winner, opening up for a mouth-watering clash in Soweto on October 24. The South Africans will focus on domestic matters on Wednesday when they visit Maritzburg United in Pietermaritzburg.