Orlando Pirates fell to a 1-0 defeat to Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy in the first leg of their CAF Champions League second preliminary round tie played at Botswana National Stadium in Gaborone on Sunday.
The result shapes an uphill climb for the Buccaneers, who find themselves at a slight disadvantage in their bid to book a spot in the group stage of the prestigious competition. The two sides started off brightly, with each getting an opportunity in the opening two minutes when Thabang Sesinyi blasted wide from close range, followed by a chance for Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo who drew a reflex save from goalkeeper Ryan Brown.
The hosts got even closer to opening the scoring nine minutes in as Omaatla Kebatho fired narrowly wide after getting on the end of a cross from Daniel Msendami. It took them a further 12 minutes to affect the scoreboard as Kitso Mangolo located Msendami with an excellent ball from deep, and the attacker needed a single touch to turn the ball into the net.
In search for the equaliser, Pirates got close through Souaibou Marou in the 36th minute when the striker headed wide from a Deon Hotto cross. This was four minutes before he got even closer to drawing level as he connected with a ball from Innocent Maela, turning it inches away from the target.
Pirates kept probing at the other end, where Lesedi Kapinga forced a save from Brown with a long ball into the box before a heavy first touch let down Maela in his attempt to make the most of the rebound. That proved to be the theme of a frustrating afternoon for the Soweto Giants, who could only conjure up half chances towards the game’s dying moments where Kabelo Dlamini drew a couple of comfortable saves from the Galaxy shot-stopper.
The hosts held on despite not seeing much of the ball in an extended injury period, setting up a tantalising second leg at Orlando Stadium towards the end of the month.