Cape Town - Orlando Pirates face a tough test in the second leg of their CAF Champions League preliminary round tie after suffering a 1-0 defeat to Green Eagles in Zambia on Saturday afternoon.
The Buccaneers went into Saturday's crunch clash aiming to lay down a marker and take an advantage back home for the return leg, but the game did not go according to plan as Spencer Sautu's 52nd-minute goal helped the hosts to a hard-fought win.
The visitors started brightly and enjoyed plenty of possession, with their first chance arriving on seven minutes as Vincent Pule fired wide of the mark after being teed up by Alfred Ndengane.
The Green Eagles' Hosea Silwimba hit back with the home side's first shot on target in the 23rd minute but Wayne Sandilands was alert to the danger, making a good save.
Sandilands was again called into action in the 34th minute, pulling off a great save to deny Kabamba Chibwe's goal-bound effort.
Bucs were able to hold firm in the closing minutes of the first stanza, though, despite a few nervy moments in defence.
However, the Green Eagles were not be denied after the break as they claimed the lead against the run of play in the 49th minute. The visitors were caught in possession and Green Eagles launched a quick counter before Sautu fired home to send to the home crowd into wild celebrations.
Pirates redoubled their efforts after falling behind, but later efforts from Pule and Augustine Mulenga failed to find the back of the net.
The visitors continued to pile forward in search of the equaliser as Ndengane saw his scuffed shot snapped by the opposition keeper, before an unmarked Pule somehow fired wide after being setup by Justin Shonga's inviting cross.
The Green Eagles were sitting back and inviting Bucs to attack, with the aim of hitting quickly on the counter. Their strategy, while somewhat risky, proved to be a successful one as the hosts went close to doubling their advantage through Samson Chilupe's towering header.
But apart from substitute Gabadinho Mhango's wayward free-kick a few minutes after the hour mark, Pirates were unable to break down an obstinate home defence as they were forced to return home empty-handed.