Orlando Pirates edged closer to qualifying for the Caf Confederation Cup quarter-finals after drawing 0-0 with Algerian giants ES Setif in a Group A game at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
The Buccaneers were hoping to make it two wins in a row having claimed a 2-0 victory over Maritzburg United in a PSL encounter which was played on Sunday.
Siyabonga Mpontshane, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Siphesihle Ndlovu and Vincent Pule made their return to the Bucs starting line-up as coach Josef Zinnbauer looked to mastermind a win over Setif.
While the Black Eagles were targeting their third consecutive win after securing a 1-0 victory over JS Kabylie in the Algerian Ligue 1 encounter last week Thursday.
Zinnbauer’s counterpart, Nabil Kouki made one change to the team which faced Kabylie as he handed Ghanaian centre forward Daniel Lomotey a starting berth in Soweto.
Deon Hotto became a constant thorn in the side of Setif’s defence from the first whistle and the maiden goalscoring opportunity of the game fell for the Namibia international.
The speedy attacker was sent through on goal by Siphesihle Ndlovu’s long ball and he unleashed a first-time shot which was easily saved by Setif goalkeeper Sofiane Khedairia.
Pirates were forced to make an early change as Wayne Sandilands replaced Mpontshane, who had sustained an injury after coming out to clear the ball before Lomotey could pounce and score.
Fortune Makaringe was able to cut open the Setif defence with his dribbling skills and he played a quality cross for Hotto, who headed over the crossbar without troubling Khedairia.
Khedairia was called into action on the stroke of half-time and he made a comfortable save from Makaringe’s curling cross and the score was 0-0 at the interval.
Pirates should have been 1-0 up two minutes into the second-half, but somehow Tshegofatso Mabaso missed a sitter from close range with only Khedairia to beat and the ball went over the crossbar.
The Black Eagles then apply some pressure on the Buccaneers which saw Sandilands make two routine saves with the former Bafana Bafana international denying Mohamed Amoura and Abderrahim Deghmoum.
Sandilands was a busy man as he pulled off two great saves from Setif captain Akram Djahnit’s well-taken free-kicks which Pirates conceded after fouling the troublesome Amoura twice.
The Buccaneers were under pressure in the closing proceedings and the last chance of the encounter fell for Ibrahim Hachoud, who failed to keep his header on target and ultimately the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
The result saw Pirates extend their lead to three points at the top of the group standings with one game left and they will qualify for the quarter-finals if Libya’s Al Ahli Benghazi fail to defeat Nigerian giants Enyimba on Wednesday night.
Pirates will now take on Swallows FC in the Soweto Derby encounter on Saturday.