Orlando Pirates have eliminated Zanaco FC from the CAF Champions League after defeating the Zambians 2-1 at the FNB Stadium on Saturday night. Khethokwakhe Masuku opened the scoring for Bucs, with Mpho Makola scoring the second after Musonda Mwape restored parity.
The defending PSL champions have triumphed 3-1 on aggregate, following their 1-0 win in Zambia, in last month’s first leg outing and now progress to the next round.
Pirates came out firing from the offset and made their intentions clear on Saturday night as Andile Jali tested Zanaco goalkeeper Racha Kola in the opening 10 minutes. However, Jali’s volley lacked power and Kola saved with the ease.
Bucs continued to press and tested the visitors with several long-range efforts. Onyekachi Okonkwo had his volley in the 13th minute dealt with, as the home team looked to break the deadlock.
Former Buccaneer, Davies Mwape, attempted to break lose soon after, however was blown for offsides as the referee called back a rare Zanaco attack in the opening exchanges. Minutes later, Daine Klate saw his attempt on goal fly wayward as Roger de Sa’s team continued to boss the play.
Pirates’ persistence paid dividend in the 18th minute as Masuku drove a thunderous left-footed drive past an out-stretched Kola to put his side 1-0 up. Masuku shot on goal 13 minutes later, however it whizzed just past the upright.
De Sa’s set-up suffered a heavy blow as Jali was forced off after twisting and sustaining an injury to his right ankle. The box-to-box midfielder was subsequently replaced by Lehlohonolo Masalesa.
Zanaco made a change of their own soon after as Stephen Phiri was replaced by Musonda Mwape. The visitors had an opportunity in the 38th minute, as Davies Mwape guided his header over Senzo Meyiwa’s cross bar.
The defending Zambian champions came out firing in the second half, and restored parity early on in the half. Substitute Musonda Mwape latched onto a Davies Mwape cross and headed past an exposed Meyiwa.
The equalising goal rattled Bucs, although they were quick to regain their confidence as captain Lucky Lekgwathi steadied his rearguard. A scramble in Zanaco’s box almost afforded Bucs an opportunity in the 55th minute, however the visitors cleared their lines to concede a corner.
Klate’s pace broke the offsides trap midway through the half, although he was unable to covert his chance despite being one-on-one with the Zanaco keeper. A minute later De Sa made a change in his attack as Collins Mbesuma made way for Takesure Chinyama, as Bucs continued to pursue their second goal of the night.
Pirates regained their lead in the 76th minute as substitute Mpho Makola, who came on for Klate, scored after only four minutes of being introduced. Makola curled a right footed free kick into the top corner and beyond the reach of the shot-stopper, to put the home side 2-1 up.
As the tie drew to its close, Thabo Matlaba let loose with one of trade mark drives from distance, although the ball sailed high and over the goal. Pirates saw out the 90 minutes as they progress to the next round.
Pirates: Senzo Meyiwa, Happy Jele, Lucky Lekgwathi, Ayanda Gcaba, Thabo Matlaba, Khethokwakhe Masuku, Oupa Manyisa, Andile Jali, Daine Klate, Onyekachi Okonkwo and Collins Mbesuma.
Zanaco: Racha Kola, Lee Ngoma, Mwewa Sakala, Kunda Mushota, Ziyo Tembo, Henry Bada, Samson Chilupe, Fackson Kapumbu, Rodrick Kabwe, Davies Mwape and Stephen Phiri.