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Orlando Pirates v Raja Casablanca Match Report, 16/05/2021

1 - 1
M. Pule (39)
B. Malango (60)
Orlando Stadium
Caf Confederation Cup: Orlando Pirates 1-1 Raja Casablanca - Bucs held by resilient Green Devils
16:50 BST 16/05/2021
Fortune Makaringe of Orlando Pirates challenged by Abdeljalil Jbira of Raja Casablanca, May 2021
The Soweto giants ended the Moroccan champions' winning streak in the competition and they will look to eliminate the Arab club when they meet again

Orlando Pirates let a lead slip in their 1-1 draw with Raja Casablanca in their Caf Confederation Cup quarter-final first-leg match at Orlando Stadium on Sunday afternoon. 

Vincent Pule opened the scoring to put the Buccaneers in the lead in the first half, but the Green Devils fought back after the restart and they managed to level matters through Ben Malango.

The Buccaneers were targeting nothing but a win in order to boost their hopes of reaching the semi-finals having drawn 0-0 with Stellenbosch FC in a PSL game on Tuesday.

Coach Josef Zinnbauer made five changes to the team which faced Stellies with Vincent Pule and Ntsikelelo Nyauza among the players who were returning to the starting line-up.

While the Green Devils were looking to maintain their unbeaten record in this season's Confederation Cup having won eight matches in a row, but they had recorded one win in their last four competitive games.

Anas Zniti, who did not concede a single goal in the group stage, started in goal, while Malango and Soufine Rahimi led the attack for coach Lassaad Chabbi's side. 

Raja adopted a defensive approach as they sat back and allowed Pirates to dominate possession with the Buccaneers launching most of their attacks on the wings through Bongani Sam and Wayde Jooste. 

Zniti and his defence dealt very well with crosses and set-pieces which were played in their area as the Soweto giants looked to break the deadlock against the three-time African champions. 

The Green Devils began pushing forward in numbers after the half-hour mark and goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands gathered Rahimi's tame shot, but the visitors left spaces behind their defence and they were punished by Pule in the 39th minute. 

The Bafana Bafana international ran onto Jooste's deflected long ball and he made no mistake as he fired past Zniti to hand Pirates a 1-0 lead as Raja conceded their first goal in seven Confederation Cup games. 

The score was 1-0 to Pirates at the interval with the Buccaneers having contained the Green Devils after taking the lead. 

Raja continued to search for the equalizing goal after the restart with the visitors playing long balls for their centre forwards Malango and Rahimi, who were causing havoc for Pirates centre-backs Thulani Hlatshwayo and Nyauza.

Parity was restored on the hour-mark after Malango ran onto a long ball and he outmuscled Nyauza, before unleashing a low shot that beat Sandilands to make it 1-1 as the Green Devils grabbed a crucial away goal.

Zinnbauer then introduced Thabang Monare, Paseka Mako and Thembinkosi Lorch at the same time as the Buccaneers looked to regain control of the match and restore their lead. 

Mako and Lorch injected some pace into the Pirates attack in the closing stages of the game and the former had an opportunity to grab a late goal for the hosts, but Zniti came out to deny the speedy player.

Raja then stood firm at the back and ultimately, the match ended in a 1-1 draw and the two teams are set to meet again in the second-leg encounter at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca on May 23.