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Nightmare start to Caf Champions League for Pirates after defeat in Zambia

Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic with players watch on during a Caf Champins League match.
Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic with players watch on during a Caf Champins League match.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Orlando Pirates kicked off their 2019-20 Caf Champions League campaign in the worst possible fashion after they suffered a 1-0 away defeat to little-known Zambian outfit Green Eagles in the first leg of a preliminary tie in Lusaka on Saturday.

Spencer Sautu’s solitary strike was enough to give Eagles a famous victory‚ with the attacking midfielder punishing the visitors after a quick counter in the 49th minute.

The Buccaneers‚ who finished strong after striker Gabadinho Mhango came on for Luvuyo Memela in the 70th minute‚ faced similar circumstances in the first round of the same competition last season when they were held to a goalless draw by minnows of Namibia‚ African Stars‚ in Windhoek.

Justin Shonga’s solitary strike in the second leg in Orlando helped Milutin Sredojevic’s side to beat Stars in the second leg to make it to the group stages where they eventually came unstuck.

An even tougher challenge awaits Bucs this time around as they have to get two unchallenged goals in the return leg at home on August 23 to proceed to the first round.

Bucs started yesterday’s encounter with a positive attitude‚ always looking to punish their hosts‚ who only made their continental debut in the Caf Confederation last season.

Sredojevic tweaked his team a little from the one that got their season to a flying start in a 3-1 league win against Bloemfontein Celtic last weekend‚ with only experienced right-back Asavela Mbekile coming in for the exciting 20-year-old Thabiso Monyane.

Pirates were expected to go a step further in this edition of Africa’s premier club competition in what could be the final season for Sredojevic if he fails to end at trophy drought that stretches back to May 2014 when they won the Nedbank Cup.

The winner of the Pirates/Eagles tie is likely to face top Angolan team Primeiro de Agosto in the first round as Premiero are expected to easily brush aside Zanzibar minnows KMKM SC in the preliminary round.

Premiero have won the Angolan league in the last four seasons and were semifinalists in the 2018 edition of the Champions league.

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