Durban — Orlando Pirates were rapid, direct and deadly and put one foot in the CAF Confederation Cup final with a 2-0 win over Al Ahly Tripoli at the Martyrs of February Stadium in Benghazi, Libya on Sunday afternoon.
Pirates took to the attack from the start. They took the lead in the 8th minute through a header from Innocent Maema. Following a corner, Al Ahly goalkeeper Muhammad Nashnoush could only parry away a header from Kwame Peprah into the path of Maema who nodded into the net.
Peprah was once again in the thick of things, playing a crucial role in Pirates doubling their lead by the 28th minute. The Ghana international sent in a cross before Goodman Mosele pounced on the ball and produced a crisp finish into the net.
Pirates nearly added a third on the stroke of half-time as Deon Hotto struck an effort near the goal line but was just wide.
Pirates clearly got their strategy right in the first half. Even though they had less than 40% ball possession, they contained Al Ahly well and the home side was restricted to taking shots from tough positions and when they did shoot, none of their shots troubled Richard Ofori in goal for Pirates.
Mohamed El Fakih struck a free-kick on the verge of half-time but his shot was nowhere near the goal. Hotto was through on goal in the 58th minute and was only to be denied with a great save from Nashnoush at point-blank range.
While Pirates were not as effective in terms of their attacking play during the second half, they continued to frustrate the home side with their smart defending in the second period.
The Sea Robbers actually should have won the game with an even bigger score had they been more clinical in the final third during the second half. Shortly after coming on substitute Siphesihle Ndlovu had a one on one opportunity to score but was denied by alert goalkeeping from Nashnoush.
In what would have been frustrating for fans and players alike, there were a number of delays in the game towards the end as the electricity went off twice and affected the lighting at the Stadium.
It is clearly Al Ahly who will have the hard work to do in the return leg at the Orlando Stadium next weekend. With away goals still counting in African football competitions, Al Ahly will have to beat Pirates by at least a two goal deficit next weekend.