Pirates defy odds to hold off Mazembe
Goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa inspired Orlando Pirates to the group stages of the Orange Caf Champions League despite losing 1-0 to TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Pirates go through by virtue of the superior goal aggregate, having beaten Mazembe 3-1 in the first leg played at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg.
Meyiwa saved two penalties to help a Pirates team that had skipper Lucky Lekgwathi sent off hold on till the final whistle.
The Buccaneers full-back Patrick Phungwayo was yellow carded in the 30th minute, setting the mood for what was a tense game
Mazembe came close to taking the lead in the 35th minute from a free kick but Meyiwa did well to deny the hosts, who were on the back foot for the better part of the game.
All hell broke loose in the 38th minute, when skipper Lekgwathi was sent off, forcing coach Roger de Sa to rethink his tactics as the teams went to halftime tied at 0-0.
At the start of the second half De Sa introduced Bheki Nzunga and Oupa Manyisa for Tlou Segolela and Rudolf Bester to add some steel as they looked to hold on to their aggregate lead.
The changes brought some steel as Pirates, down to 10 men, managed to hold off Mazembe’s menacing attacks.
The Pirates defence was finally cracked by Jean Kasusula in the 72nd minute, giving Mazembe hope for a comeback as they needed just one goal to progress via the away goals rule.
Mazembe were awarded a penalty in the 50th minute. Eric Bokanga was acrobatically denied by keeper Meyiwa to keep the score at 1-0.
With two minutes to go, Mazembe were again awarded another penalty and this time around Meyiwa denied skipper Tresor Mputu from the spot kick.
Pirates will know their group stage opponents on May 7 when the draws are made in Cairo ahead of the league phase that kicks off during the weekend of July 19.
Pirates: Meyiwa, Jele, Lekgwathi, Gcaba, Phungwayo, Myeni, Okonkwo, Maselesa, Segolela, Bester, Mbesuma.
Mazembe: Kidiaba, Frimpong, Kimwaki, Kabiona, Kasusula, Sinkala, Asante, Kabangu, Mputu, Singuluma, Samatta