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CAF Confederation Cup

Orlando Pirates vs Raja Casablanca: Three mistakes that cost Bucs

20:48 SAST 2021/05/16
Deon Hotto of Orlando Pirates challenges Marouane Hadhoudi of Raja Casablanca
The Sea Robbers are aiming to win a competition in which they were losing finalists in 2015, while their Moroccan counterparts won it in 2018

Orlando Pirates have left themselves with a big mountain to climb next week in Morocco following their 1-1 draw with Raja Casablanca in a Caf Confederation Cup first leg quarter-final clash at the Orlando Stadium on Sunday.

Football matches are often decided on the finest of margins, even more so when it comes to two good teams playing each other in the latter stages of major competitions.

This was indeed the case in Soweto on Sunday evening as Pirates ultimately threw away a chance to head to Casablanca next week with a lead - rather than being disadvantaged by allowing the opposition to net an away goal.

Hotto miss

Namibian international Deon Hotto missed a wonderful chance 30 minutes into the game after Vincent Pule had skipped free down the right and whipped in a pin-point cross. Hotto failed to get any contact on the ball at all and a golden chance was wasted.

Playing without a targetman

One has to feel for Pirates coach Josef Zinnbauer, who has been under pressure of late due to some poor results, because this is a game in which Bucs played well enough to have won.

Not for the first time though, Zinnbauer started the match without an out-and-out striker in the starting line-up. The chance Hotto missed may well have been scored by a more natural forward. There were other moments too when Pirates appeared to be lacking presence up front especially considering that Gabadinho Mhango was on the bench. He could also perhaps have been more attack-minded and played left-back Paseka Mako from the start.

Poor defending

It wasn't as if Raja had been peppering the home goal with shots all afternoon, and in fact goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands was well-protected for most of the game and had little work to do.

But just before the hour mark, some poor defending all round allowed the visitors to equalise through Ben Malango. Ntsikelelo Nyauza made the first error when he failed to deal decisively with a hopeful ball up field and was bundled to the ground by a more direct Malango.

Left-back Bongani Sam should also have done better by getting closer to Malango but instead allowed himself to be turned, and for the shot to be fired through his legs.

And goalkeeper Sandilands could also have his positioning questioned - having come off the line, he had less time to react when Malango squeezed a low but not especially powerful shot, past his feet.