Pirates held by Setif at Orlando, but edge closer to Confed quarters
Orlando Pirates seemed wary of taking a the more adventurous approach needed to earn three points against ES Setif at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday, settling for a 0-0 Caf Confederation Cup Group A draw.
The result may have left group leaders Bucs (nine points) needing a draw in their tricky last match against Enyimba in Nigeria next Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals.
If Enyimba (six points) win or draw against Al Ahli Benghazi (four) in Libya on Thursday, Pirates will be through before their final game. If Ahli win, then Bucs will need a draw or win in Nigeria. Pirates beat Enyimba 2-1 at Orlando in their second Group A game.
Setif, on five points, seem out of contention for the quarterfinals ahead of their final match at home to Ahli. They showed their disgruntlement with a handbags scuffle with Pirates’ players entering the tunnel at the end of the draw.
Significantly, if Bucs qualify that will make history with three SA teams in continental quarterfinals for the first time, as Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs have reached that stage in the Caf Champions League.
Pirates were playing a team with continental pedigree – Setif won the Caf Champions League in 1988 and as recently as 2014.
The Algerian outfit’s class in structure and technique showed, though Bucs easily edged the skill and comfort on the ball factor, and were no slouches in organisation too.
It seemed a more adventurous approach tactically from coach Josef Zinnbauer could have seen Pirates take the three points, and confirm qualification before the last game, or Thursday.
It goes without saying that Setif, in North African tradition, were physical and organised. They were aggressive too, and that showed in a first half where perhaps Pirates seemed overly circumspect committing numbers forward in promising situations.
Early on Vincent Pule’s cross-cum-shot forced a save from goalkeeper Sofiane Khediaria.
On 20 minutes Siyabonga Mpontshane came 25 metres out of is box to intercept a ball forward being run onto by Ghanaian striker Daniel Lomotey, and stretched for the challenge, seemingly pulling a thigh muscle. Bucs’ keeper had to be replaced by Wayne Sandilands in the 22nd.
Pule beat right-back Abdelhak Debbari and crossed, Tshegofatso Mabasa getting up to the header, but unable to get over it.
Moments before the break midfielder Akram Djhanit’s free-kick from the left of the area swerved and had to be palmed for a corner by Sandilands.
Setif brought on big defensive midfielder Messala Merbah for Lomotey, and pushed speedy winger Mohamed El Amine Amoura up to centre-forward.
Pirates missed a sitter three minutes into the half when Pule put Fortune Makaringe through to scythe down the right of the area and square, Mabasa, from six metres, somehow lifting his attempt at a finish over the bar.
Bucs camped in Setif territory early in the second half as Deon Hotto’s cross found Pule to head onto the top-netting.
The Algerian club came back strongly and pushed for a winner in the last half-hour. In the 61st Thulani Hlatshwayo fouled Amoura inches outside the box at the left edge, leading to Akram Djhanit’s free-kick that forced a block from Sandilands.