Orlando Pirates bowed out of the CAF Champions League at the first hurdle after only managing a 1-1 draw with Green Eagles in their preliminary round second-leg clash.
Fortune Makaringe made his second start of the campaign in midfield alongside Xola Mlambo, with Thembinkosi Lorch leading the charge for the Soweto giants, who needed nothing less than a victory.
Pirates looked for a quick opener on 13 minutes, but Eagles goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange thwarted Gabadinho Mhango and Vincent Pule’s follow-up attempt. Eagles themselves pushed for an away goal in the opening exchanges, but the defensive rear-guard from Bucs kept the Zambians at bay.
Mhango kept the Eagles defence busy with his off-the-ball runs, with Pule unable to find target from a side-foot delivery by Lorch in the opening 25 minutes.
Bucs continued pushing on the half-hour mark, but Mhango fired straight at Mwange after the visitors failed to clear their lines. Pule threatened the opener seven minutes later with a back-heel inside the area, but Mwange’s reflexes saved the day.
The Buccaneers ended their long-standing goal-drought as Happy Jele headed home a corner inside the 60th minute. The joy was short-lived though as Amit Shamende peeled off the defence to slot into the bottom corner from a wide delivery.
Mwange remained busy in the final minutes, preventing Lorch from point-blank range following a move inside the area as Pirates pushed for two more goals.
Frustration began to grow for the hosts as Lorch struck the upright on 75 minutes from a tight angle, before Mwange denied the Buccaneers once again with save from Lorch’s indirect free-kick in the final minutes.
The Buccaneers suffered heartbreak in the end, with Eagles advancing to the second round of qualifiers in their first ever continental appearance.
Pirates: Sandilands, Jele, Mbekile, Maela, Mlambo, Makaringe, Mako, Pule, Lorch, Mhango, Shonga.
Subs: Delle, Nyauza, Nyatama, Dlamini, Ndlovu, Mabasa, Mulenga