Pirates face mammoth task in Casablanca after home draw

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Orlando Pirates face a mammoth task away in North Africa next Sunday after failing to capitalise on home advantage as they played a 1-1 draw against visiting Raja Casablanca.

After toiling for a goal in the first half, Vincent Pule finally broke the deadlock in the 39th minute of the Caf Confederation Cup first leg quarterfinal tie played at the Orlando Stadium.

The Buccaneers made five changes from the team that drew with Stellenbosch FC during the week with Bongani Sam, Ntsikelelo Nyauza, Ben Motshwari, Vincent Pule and Fortune Makaringe starting.

The best chance for the hosts in the first half fell to Deon Hotto, but he failed to connect a decent delivery from Wayne Jooste.

Pirates got their breakthrough six minutes before the break when Pule ran in behind the defence to coolly slot past Anas Zniti.

Raja’s efforts for a swift reply were thwarted by Thulani Hlatshwayo and Ntsikelelo Nyauza. However, the visitors came back from the back a more purposeful side in the second half.

All hell almost broke loose when the Moroccan giants were denied a penalty after Nyauza handled in the box early in the second half.

After that decision, the game turned into a physical battle, but Kenyan referee Peter Kamaku repeatedly stood his ground.

Ben Malango got the visitors the equaliser in the 59th minute after Nyauza failed to clear an aerial ball, allowing the Congolese forward to exploit Wayne Sandilands’ poor positioning.

After the equaliser, Bucs were out of sorts, letting the visitors run rings around them in midfield.

Again, Hotto had another beautiful chance in the 82nd minute, but failed to restore their lead in the 18-yard box before giving away possession.

Pirates travel to Casablanca for the return leg set for Sunday at the Mohammed V Stadium and will have to either win the encounter or get a draw of more than one goal.

By Mthokozisi Dube

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