Bucs will have to three of the next four games to make semi­fi­nals


CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI at Mbombela Sta­dium ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

De­spite los­ing their sec­ond CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup match to Za­malek, Or­lando Pi­rates are still in with a chance to qual­ify for the semi­fi­nals. Fri­day’s 1-1 draw be­tween other group teams – CS Sfax­ien and AC Leop­ards – means Pi­rates are still sec­ond in the group, three points be­hind Za­malek.

How­ever, with four games still to go, the Buc­ca­neers will have to win at least three of them, two of which are at home.

Their 2-1 de­feat to the Egyp­tian giants was a tem­po­rary set­back – and was their first loss in this year’s tour­na­ment.

Za­malek are now in the driver’s seat in Group B af­ter their sec­ond suc­ces­sive vic­tory, which puts them at the top with six points.

Pi­rates will have a chance to get their cam­paign back on track when they visit Sfax­ien in Tu­nisia in two weeks’ time.

But they will need to be more clin­i­cal and ag­gres­sive if they want to go fur­ther in the tour­na­ment.

Af­ter a rather luke­warm first half, the two teams came back strongly in the sec­ond half. But it was the hosts who drew first blood when sub­sti­tute Lehlo­honolo Ma­joro put them ahead with vir­tu­ally his sec­ond touch af­ter com­ing on for Ker­mit Eras­mus.

In­stead of clos­ing down the game, some Pi­rates play­ers showed a lack of ma­tu­rity when they wanted to play to the gallery.

Pi­rates al­lowed Za­malek to come from be­hind to snatch the vic­tory – cour­tesy of su­perb goals by Ma­roof Yusuf and Moustafa Mo­hamed.

Pi­rates tried to come back and forced two great saves from goal­keeper Ahmed Nasser, but ended up on the los­ing side.

It was not a clin­i­cal per­for­mance from the Buc­ca­neers as they lacked sharp­ness in front of goal.

They were not play­ing their flu­id­type of football and this forced them to take shots from out­side the box, which never trou­bled the vis­it­ing goal­keeper.

Pi­rates could be for­given for be­ing a lit­tle rusty and not be­ing at their best.

They last played a com­pet­i­tive match since their open­ing group fix­ture against Leop­ards in Congo-Braz­zav­ille a fort­night ago.

The visi­tors’ de­fen­sive ap­proach frus­trated the home team, and they could not easily pen­e­trate their rear­guard.

It was a highly tac­ti­cal game and needed some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary from ei­ther side.

The fact that the only cor­ner kick of the open­ing half came at the 35th minute proved that play was mostly con­cen­trated in the mid­dle of the park.

But Pi­rates had their mo­ments – Tham­sanqa Gabuza’s ef­fort hit the up­right and Thabo Mat­laba’s ef­fort sailed past the goal mouth.

It was a good game of football from both sides and the crowd en­joyed them­selves.

Credit should go to the visi­tors, who showed their su­pe­ri­or­ity. They stuck to their tac­tics and gave noth­ing away.

South African women’s Un­der-20 team, Basetsana, will start their Fifa World Cup qual­i­fiers against Botswana to­day. The clash takes place at Dob­sonville Sta­dium in Soweto. Kick­off is at 3pm.

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