Bucs walk the plank in Tunisia

Esperance dispose of Pirates, Sundowns draw

Orlando Pirates players in training at the club’s media day at the Rand Stadium
Orlando Pirates players in training at the club’s media day at the Rand Stadium
Image: Sydney Mahlangu

Anice Badri scored one goal and set up another as African Champions League holders Esperance comfortably defeated Orlando Pirates 2-0 in their Group B clash at the Stade Olympique d’El Menzah in Tunisia on Tuesday.

The result brought to an end a 27-game unbeaten run in all competitions for The Buccaneers‚ who had not lost since a 1-0 Absa Premiership defeat against Bloemfontein Celtic on August 19.

But having failed to create much in front of goal‚ Pirates can have little argument with the result in a fixture in which they were always second best.

Esperance head the pool with eight points from four games‚ with Pirates in third place on five‚ after Guinea side Horoya defeated FC Platinum from Zimbabwe 2-0, also on Tuesday.

The match was played in front of empty stands‚ which should have been an advantage for Pirates‚ after Esperance were punished by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for fan misbehaviour earlier in the competition.

Pirates coach Micho Sredojevic made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Kaizer Chiefs‚ bringing Paseka Mako‚ Linda Mntambo and Augustine Mulenga into the side for Musa Nyatama‚ Xola Mlambo and Justin Shonga.

Badri opened the scoring from a simple free-kick routine as he was fed on the left-hand side, and with the Pirates defenders expecting a high ball into the box‚ the Tunisia international had an easy finish.

Wayne Sandilands did an excellent job to stop his side slipping further behind as Ghilane Chalali shot from 11m‚ but could not beat the keeper.

Mohamed Yacoubi then struck the base of the post with a header from a corner as Esperance continued to dominate early in the second period.

Substitute Shonga had the first real shot in anger on 65 minutes when he collected the ball in the box and struck a low shot on the turn that went just wide of the post.

But Esperance continued to create the better chances‚ especially from set pieces‚ and Ivorian midfielder Fousseny Coulibaly saw his header pushed around the post by Sandilands.

Vincent Pule received a yellow card that means he misses the vital home game with FC Platinum on March 8‚ before Shonga flashed a free-kick narrowly wide.

Esperance made sure of the points in the dying minutes with a deserved second goal as Badri set up Haythem Jouini for a simple finish.

Meanwhile, Mamelodi Sundowns had to battle big, physical and determined opponents in Asec Abidjan, and tough conditions too, for a 0-0 Caf Champions League draw in the Ivory Coast capital on Tuesday.

In heat reportedly at 31°C on the poor surface of Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny – the same pitch where Jerry Sikhosana scored that goal to win the 1995 Champions Cup for Pirates – Downs absorbed attacks, looked for a winner on the counterattack, and ultimately gritted out a stalemate.