Gallant Pirates go down

2013-11-10 20:57

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Oh no! It is all over for Orlando Pirates as their quest for a second star ended in agony and tears when they lost 2-0 to defending champions Al Ahly tonight.

The Egyptian giants won 3-1 on aggregate.

But it was a good journey for the South African side who were never given a chance in this tournament.

The Buccaneers should hold their heads high knowing they did what many teams have failed; finishing as the second best team on the continent is not something to be ashamed of.

They would point out to the 1-1 draw at home last weekend as their downfall as they should have done better in front of their home supporters. It was always going to be difficult for the visitors to break the Egyptian giants' wall.

However they were not clinical in front of goal with Tlou Segolela and Lenox Bacela fluffing chances.

Pirates knew they had to score away from home and took the game to the hosts from the onset and by so doing they exposed their defense and Ahly exploited this weakness.

They should have gone to into the break ahead but, as has often been the case in this tournament, Tlou Segolela let the hosts off the hook. The speedy winger, who was always a thorn in the side of the Ahly defense, should have given Pirates the lead in the 19th minute with the goal at his mercy but goalkeeper Ahmed Sherif thwarted his attempt.

Pirates started on the back foot as they seemed overawed by the occasion and allowed the hosts to dictate terms early on. But as the game went on, Pirates' players also grew in confidence with Sifiso Myeni taking them on but he still found the Ahly defense resolute.

However it was not Pirates all the way as the home side also had their moments in the game. Mohamed Ghareeb tried his luck from outside the box, forcing Senzo Meyiwa to tip the ball over the bar.

Buoyed by the home fans, Ahly finished the half the better side as they raided the Pirates' box. Their shout for a penalty fell on deaf ears as Gambian referee Papa Bakary waved play on after Ashour Housam went down theatrically inside the box.

Pirates absorbed the pressure until Bakary blew for the break.

Ahly started where they left off in the first half and it was that man again Mohamed Aboutrika who broke the deadlock and South Africans’ hearts in the 54th minute. It was Aboutrika’s goal at Orlando Stadium last weekend which gave Ahly the edge going into the second leg.

Ahmed Darwish put the icing on the cake with the second goal which signaled the end for Pirates. Although Fadil Sherif got his marching orders few minutes later Ahly hung on to win an unprecedented eighth title.

The eagerly-anticipated clash was preceded by chaotic scenes outside the stadium as thousands of local supporters wanted to force their way into the already cramped stadium.

The Egyptian force was out in their numbers to thwart any attempt of disruption but their presence was not enough to stop the overzealous crowd. This was a disaster waiting to happen but fortunately the game kicked off without any reported incidents.

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