Orlando Pirates went down 1-0 to Zambia’s Green Eagles FC in the CAF Champions League preliminary round first-leg.
Pirates re-called 2016 Champions League winner Asavela Mbekile as the only change from their season-opening victory over Bloemfontein Celtic last Saturday.
The Buccaneers were put to their paces in the opening minutes, as Kennedy Musonda and Hosea Silwimba’s combination proved menacing with the latter forcing Wayne Sandilands into a strong save.
Eagles weren’t having it all their way though, as Musa Nyatama’s threaded passes from the middle required stern defending albeit timed clearances.
The Buccaneers nearly succumbed to the pressure in the final minutes to halftime, with Kabamba Chibwe unable to profit from sloppy defending.
Eagles eventually broke the deadlock after 49 minutes when Spencer Sautu got on the end of a fast-paced counterattack to slam home. Pirates almost allowed a second from another break-attack on 62 minutes, but a timeous intervention from Mbekile saved the day.
The Zambians continued pressurising their more illustrious opponents, with Happy Jele and co forced to hold firm.
Gabadinho Mhango, who scored on debut last weekend, was introduced from the bench on 67 minutes with Luvuyo Memela making way.
The alterations didn’t bring any effect, with Eagles continuing their pressurising play in the final quarter of the match.
In the end, the Zambians earned a narrow victory with the Soweto giants needing to overturn the tie in the return-leg in two weeks time.
Pirates: Sandilands, Jele, Ndengane, Maela, Mbekile, Motshwari, Nyatama, Memela, Pule, Mulenga, Shonga,
Subs: Mpontshane, Nyauza, Mabaso, Mlambo, Makaringe, Dlamini, Mhango.