Pirates through to Confed Cup quarterfinals despite Enyimba loss

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Orlando Pirates conceded a late goal, giving up top spot to Nigeria’s Enyimba although both teams qualify for the quarterfinals of the Caf Confederation Cup.

Enyimba desperately needed maximum points after succumbing to a 1-0 defeat away to Al Ahly Benghazi last week.

After the hard fought win on Wednesday night, the two-time African champions moved top of the group with nine points.

Although Pirates collected the same number of points after two wins and three draws, Enyimba finished top courtesy of better head to head results.

The Nigerian giants scored in Johannesburg when they lost 1-2 while Pirates were unable to get a goal in Aba State, southeast of Nigeria, where Wednesday night’s tie was played.

The Buccaneers had a decent first half before the hosts turned on the heat in the second half, dominating possession.

Pirates were without captain Happy Jele, Bafana Bafana skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo, Deon Hotto and Gabadinho Mhango.

With goalkeepers Richard Ofori and Siyabonga Mpontshane both injured, Bucs played with no reserve shot-stopper on the bench.

The Nigerians threw everything at their makeshift defence, marshaled by captain of the Ntsikelelo Nyauza, who had Innocent Maela slot in right next to him in central defence.

In the 89th minute, substitute Omoyele Abraham headed wide from close range, but he was back again a minute later. This time, he beat veteran goalie Wayne Sandilands, but he was ruled offside.

With ES Setif leading Al Ahly Benghazi 1-0 in the other Group A game, Enyimba needed nothing short of a victory.

It finally came in the 95th minute courtesy of an Olisema Chinedu strike. The result left Algeria’s Setif in third place, just a point behind Pirates and Enyimba.

By Mthokozisi Dube

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