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