South Africa’s Orlando Pirates secured a place in the semifinals of the CAF Confederation Cup with a 2-0 win over Congo’s AC Leopards on Saturday evening.
The Buccaneers claimed a deserved victory in their Group B clash at Orlando Stadium, a result which sees both them and Zamalek assured of a place in the final four, while former champions Leopards have been eliminated.
After a bright start from Pirates, it was Leopards who created the better chances in the opening half hour. The Congo side should have opened the scoring just before the 20-minute mark when Cesair Gandze raced free, but he was denied by a brilliant save from Felipe Ovono.
The Buccaneers then broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute when the excellent Kermit Erasmus broke free down the right and picked out Mpho Makola with a low cross – the midfielder fired a low shot into the bottom corner for his third goal of the week, having netted twice in a 4-1 win over Chippa United on Tuesday.
Despite taking the lead, Pirates looked uneasy against their strong and athletic opponents, who always looked dangerous in the final third of the field and regularly stretched the home side’s defence to the limit. However, too often their final pass or decision making cost them scoring opportunities.
Pirates almost doubled their lead five minutes into the second half when striker Thamsanqa Gabuza threw himself at a cross from Sifiso Myeni, but his diving header flashed wide of the near post, while Leopards’ Heritier Ngouelou blazed over from a good chance in the 66th minute.
As the match wore on and the Congo visitors began to commit more men forward, it seemed only a matter of time until Bucs scored a goal on the counter attack to kill off the match, however, they were twice denied by brilliant saves from goalkeeper Lawrence Ngoe.
However, there was nothing the gloves-man could do to deny Oupa Manyisa doubling the score in the 87th minute, with the Bucs captain sliding in to convert from Lehlohonolo Majoro’s fine assist.
Pirates will meet Zamalek in a fortnight’s time for the final group match, with the clash in Egypt set to decide who finished top of the standings.