ORLANDO Pirates’ dreams of becoming the first Mzansi club to win both major African club competitions ended in tears yesterday.
Bucs were beaten 1-0 (2-1 on aggregate) by Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel in their Caf Confederation Cup second leg final played at the Stade Olympique in Sousse yesterday.
Bucs, who won the Caf Champions Cup in 1995, failed to learn from their first leg mistakes, where they had conceded a late equaliser from a free kick in the 1-1 draw.
Yesterday they again conceded a killer goal when Ammar Jemal, who scored that vital away goal at Orlando Stadium, managed to stab home Happy Jele’s attempt to clear another set-piece in the 23rd minute.
The game was in doubt when a bomb blast rocked the capital Tunis last week. The authorities brought the kick-off forward by four hours due to security concerns.
Pirates knew they were up against it. The Tunisians have done it all in Africa, winning every major continental trophy.
Sahel even won all eight Confed Cup matches at home this year en route to lifting the trophy.
Playing with a strong wind at their backs, Sahel took the initiative and controlled the midfield in a tough physical battle.
But despite suffering a big setback when they lost leading goal-scorer Baghdad Bounedjah to injury in the 17th minute, when he was stretchered off after a crunching tackle from Ayanda Gcaba, the home side never panicked.
Bucs, needing to score an early goal to unsettle the home side and their fans, failed again to convert the few chances they created in a disappointing opening half. They improved after the break, doing what they should have done from the start in the second stanza by taking the game to Sahel and keeping them under pressure.
A brilliant save by keeper Aymen Mathlouthi from a Sifiso Myeni free kick a minute from time underlined Bucs’ frustration as the visitors threw everything forward.
Bucs were losing Champions League finalists to Egyptian super club Al Ahly in 2013 after they also drew 1-1 in the first leg at Orlando Stadium and eventually lost 3-1 on aggregate.