Football

Orlando Pirates, RS Berkane set up final date in CAF Confederation Cup

Orlando Pirates celebrate in a past match
  • Orlando Pirates lost to Ahli Benghazi in the second leg of the semis
  • Berkane scored two late goals to qualify
  • The final will be played in Uyo, Nigeria

Despite losing by a solitary goal to Libya’s Al Ahli, Orlando Pirates have squeezed into the final of the CAF Confederation Cup, and will face off with Morocco’s RS Berkane who beat TP Mazembe 4-1 in the other semi-final.

Pirates progressed to the final with a 2-1 aggregate victory, having won the first leg played last weekend in Benghazi 2-0.

Coming in to the return tie, the Libyans knew that they needed a massive performance in Johannesburg to ensure they overturned the deficit from the first leg at home. They were off to a good start with offensive display and commanded possession in the opening 45 minutes.

Mohammad Abu Zurayq and Mahmoud Okashah both tried their efforts from long range with Ghanaian keeper Richard Ofori thwarting both with punching saves.

Tripoli thought they had been awarded a penalty midway through the half when Happy Jele was adjudged to have handled the ball inside the box, but the VAR came to Pirates’ rescue, overturning the decision.

Action between Orlando Pirates and Al Ahli Tripoli

The visitors came close again when Ofori made another good save to block Muayid Jaddour’s shot from range. The rebound fell on Saleh Al Taher, but he could not get a shot on target and skied the ball.

In the second half, Pirates started off on bullet pace and just seconds in, Kwame Peprah went through on goal, but his shot flew just wide, hitting the side netting.

The home side pushed on with the blistering start to the second half. Dean Hotto had two chances with freekicks, both flying wide.. However, towards the final quarter of the match, Ahli put in the pressure and at the stroke of 90 minutes scored through Arqoub to set up a tense finish.

They knew just one goal would send the game to penalties and they pushed in the Pirates half, but the home side just but managed to hold on to qualify for their second ever Confederation Cup final.

Meanwhile, RS Berkane scored two late goals to turn the tide against Mazembe in their favour, with the Congolese giants finishing the match with 10 men. Mwape was sent off for a second yellow card in the 65th minute.

Berkane trailed by a solitary goal from the first leg played in Lubumbashi last weekend and needed a massive performance at home to ensure they progressed to their third final.

RS Berkane and Orlando Pirates

They had a strong start to the match and got into the lead after nine minutes courtesy of a Bakr El Helali goal. The forward struck a brilliant shot on the volley from the edge of the box after a cross from the left was deflected to his path.

However, Mazembe struck an immediate response through Philippe Kinzumbi. The 23-year old forward stole the ball off Berkane defender Issoufou Dayo who had taken a heavy touch and stormed into the box before rifling an unstoppable left footer.

The goal balanced the tie with Mazembe now playing with more confidence especially as they led 2-1 on aggregate.

In the second half, the home side came back with more vigour as they sought to swing the tie back in their favour. They were handed a huge numerical advantage after 65 minutes when Zambian Mwape was sent off for a second yellow.

With one man more, they pushed Mazembe into their own half and they were rewarded with the second goal in the 79th minute when skipper Najji Larbi bounced in a header unmarked from an Omar Namsaoui freekick.

Berkane now needed just one goal to win the tie and they got it in the 86th minute when El Fahli scored from the penalty spot. The referee reviewed a foul inside the box on the VAR pitch side monitor to award the spot kick.

El Fahli then sealed the victory in stoppage time off a counter with a simple tap in after substitute Charki El Bahri won the ball on the right and slashed in an inviting cross past the keeper.

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