Pirates book semi-final spot

2013-09-22 18:00
Orlando Pirates celebrate (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates have claimed the last CAF Champions League semi-finals place despite being held 0-0 at home by Al-Ahly Sunday.

After a cagey clash of few chances, the Egyptians took first place in Group A with 11 points and the South Africa came second with eight.

Another Egyptian outfit, Zamalek, fought back to whip Congo-Brazzaville visitors AC Leopards 4-1 and move up to third place.

Title-holders Ahly face Coton Sport of Cameroon in the semi-finals during October while Pirates meet 2012 champions Esperance of Tunisia.

All the Orlando Stadium drama was crammed into the final quarter with Thulasizwe Mbuyane and Daine Klate of Pirates and Walid Soliman of Ahly going close to winning the game.

Substitute Mbuyane had been on the field less than a minute when the ball dropped in front of him inside the box with only goalkeeper Sherif Ekrami to beat.

But the decades-old South African failing of poor finishing at the highest level was evident again as a wild shot flew over.

Diminutive Soliman had his chance seven minutes later as he raced forward to connect with a cross-field pass and his drive went millimetres wide of the far post.

Klate was foiled six minutes from time by the save of the match as Ekrami blocked a point-blank header when a goal seemed inevitable.

Pirates, the only South African team to win the premier pan-African club competition, had plenty of possession, but lacked ideas when they reached the Ahly box.

Ahly adopted their usual away approach of massed defence in a system that left Ahmed Abdul-Zaher alone up front, but threatened on the break.

A bad week for Zamalek ended on a high in Red Sea resort El-Gouna with Ahmed Gaafar bagging a brace to dash Leopards' semi-finals dreams.

Police fired teargas Thursday to repel an attack on the club headquarters in Cairo as angry supporters demanded the president and coach be fired for poor CAF results.

And an eve-of-match dust storm in El-Gouna prevented the Egyptians having a final training session before a game staged behind closed doors for security reasons.

Sluggish Zamalek were lucky to be only one goal behind by the half hour as Rudy Guelord Bhebey-Ndey scored and Leopards had a goal disallowed and twice rattled the woodwork.

But a Mohamed Ibrahim equaliser on 33 minutes transformed the 'White Knights', who went ahead in first half stoppage time through star midfielder 'Shikabala'.

Gaafar joined the leading Champions League scorers this season on six goals by bagging an eight-minute second half brace.

He nodded in a Hazem Emam cross on 58 minutes, and scored with a low shot past Lawrence Ngome after being set up by Omar Gaber.

Esperance won 2-1 at Coton Sport of Cameroon Saturday in a Group B game between clubs who had already secured semi-finals places.

Khaled Gharsellaoui and Ahmed Akaichi struck in the first half for a second-string Esperance side and Coton snatched a late consolation goal via Daouda Kamilou.

Portuguese pair Joao Tomas and Nuno Silva netted for Recreativo Libolo of Angola, whose disappointing campaign ended with a 2-2 draw against Ivorian visitors Sewe San Pedro.

Sewe came from behind twice through goals from Nigerien Idrissa Garba and Souleymane Binate in Calulo, south of Luanda.

CAF Champions League matchday 6 results Sunday:

Group A:

Orlando Pirates (RSA) 0 Al-Ahly (EGY, holders) 0

Group B:


Coton Sport (CMR) 1 (Kamilou 90+1) Esperance (TUN) 2 (Gharsellaoui 8, Akaichi 24)

Recreativo Libolo (ANG) 2 (Tomas 4, Silva 11-pen) Sewe San Pedro (CIV) 2 (Garba 8, Binate 41)

CAF Champions League semi-finals draw after last group games Sunday:

Coton Sport (CMR) v Al-Ahly (EGY, holders)

Orlando Pirates (RSA) v Esperance (TUN)

First leg: weekend of October 4-6

Second leg: weekend of October 18-20


Pirates or Esperance v Coton or Ahly

First leg: weekend of November 1-3

Second leg: weekend of November 8-10

Note: winners represent Africa at 2013 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco with host nation champions Raja Casablanca


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