Buccaneers Exit Champions League

A dramatic penalty shootout led to Orlando Pirates’ exit in the CAF Champions League after they had fought back to level their Second Preliminary Round tie against Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy with a 1-0 win at Orlando Stadium on Friday night.

After conceding a 1-0 lead in the tie on their trip to Gaborone, the Soweto Giants were on a mission to avoid an early exit with a spot in the group stage of the competition up for grabs on the night.

They were unfortunate not to level matters on aggregate throughout the first 45 minutes where they dominated proceedings, setting up camp inside the opposition half. 

It was however Pirates goalkeeper Sipho Chaine who had the first feel of the ball moments after the first whistle following a lapse of concentration from the back that led to a turnover of possession deep inside the Pirates half, with the shot-stopper forced off his line to prevent what would have been a disastrous start.

From then on, it was one-way traffic as Paseka Mako provided the Buccaneers’ first shot on target 10 minutes in when he cut in from the left side of the field before his effort was comfortably dealt with by Goitseone Phoko. His attempt was followed up by a more venomous effort from Zakhele Lepasa who popped up inside the box to turn Patrick Maswanganyi’s cross towards goal, but his header was hit straight at the shot-stopper.

Midway through the first half, midfielder Thabang Monare sparked a chance of his own with a shot from the edge of the box, but could not find a way past Phoko.

That proved to be the theme of the first half, with the centre-back pair of Tapelo Xoki and Nkosinathi Sibisi advancing further enough upfield to also get a taste of the goalmouth action before Maswanganyi’s shot from a tight angle inside the box drew another save from Phoko late in the first half.

The Bucs attacking midfielder began the second period just as he ended the first, with his battle with the Jwaneng goalkeeper continuing much in the same vein as the latter managed to keep the hosts scoreless from another close-range effort three minutes after the restart.

The opener continued to elude the home side until after the hour mark when substitute striker Evidence Makgopa made an immediate impact moments after being brought on with his shot was carried over the line after catching a deflection inside the congested penalty area. 

Jwaneng had a rare opportunity in the 72nd minute through Wendell Rudath, who was able to create space to shoot from the left before dragging his shot wide.

However, Pirates were able to effortlessly wrestle momentum back into their favour for much of the remainder of the contest, maintaining their dominance with no goals forthcoming.

The closest they came to closing out the tie was 23 minutes from the final whistle when Kermit Erasmus worked himself into space just outside the box before unleashing a shot that rattled the woodwork.

Makgopa and Hotto followed up with attempts of their own with neither finding the target and the final whistle eventually sounded, confirming that the tie would be decided via a penalty shootout.

The Buccaneers took the first spot kick, with Hotto making no mistake as he calmly slotted home before Rubath effortlessly made it 1-1.

More successful penalties followed from Sibisi and Xoki, while Thabang Sesinyi and Nqobizitha Masuku ensured that the visitors were level after three penalties apiece.

Pirates’ teenage midfielder was the fourth man to step up for the hosts, but his effort was kept out by Phoko.

Maswanganyi then converted from the spot, but that was not enough to pull the Soweto Giants back into the contest as the visitors maintained a perfect conversion rate to book their spot among the final 16 teams remaining in the competition.

Pirates XI: Chaine (Ofori 90+2’), Xoki, Sibisi, Monyane (Shandu 60’), Mako, Ndlondlo (Kimvuidi 46’), Monare, Maswanganyi, Lepasa (Makgopa 60’), Hotto, Erasmus (Mofokeng 78’).

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