Orlando Pirates and Etoile Du Sahel played to a 1-1 draw in the first of two legs of the Caf Confederation Cup final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night. Amabhakabhaka were out for a victory in their second continental final in as many years and looked to ensure they avoid a defeat suffered in 2013 when they lost to Al Ahly in the Champions League. Knowing their record away from home is not that too good, Sahel were out to try and defy the odds against a high-paced Bucs side.
The Ghost gelled well in the opening exchanges with their diagonal passes doing the work for them. Much of the action was in the middle of the park with Sahel dominating the proceedings. In the 29th minute the visitors came close when Siyabonga Sangweni and Felipe Ovono misjudged an easy pass that later proved dangerous with the striker failing to direct it on goal.
In the 34th minute Thabo Matlaba was put on goal by Kermit Erasmus and the former sent his shot way over the posts. Two minutes later, villain turned hero as Matlaba put Thamsanqa Gabuza on goal and the striker unleashed a thunderbolt past the keeper to make it 1-0. The hosts continued pushing forward but failed to increase the lead by the break.
Faouzi Benzarti’s men took charge of the early second half exchanges but failed to bear fruit for their attempts. Pirates lit up heading to the hour mark and looked liked scoring whenever they went forward but Sahel maintained their shape well in keeping them at bay. With 20 minutes left to play, the Buccaneers had the lead and were well on course to keeping a clean sheet.
Heading to the latter stages of the match, the Tunisians could feel the match slipping away from their grasp and gave away plenty of fouls to further inflict pressure on themselves. The Sea Robbers looked well on their way but conceding too many set pieces saw them punished in the 88th minute when Jemal rifled the ball past Ovono to make it 1-1. Despite dishing out a string of solid passes later in the match, Ezikamagebhula failed to sink Sahel at home.
The results leaves Eric Tinkler’s with a disadvantage heading to the second leg away from home which is set to be played on the 29th of November.
Photo credit: Nick Lourens