Pirates fail to ignite for Champions League group stage opener
Orlando Pirates were far from their best as they drew 0-0 with FC Platinum in their CAF Champions League Group B opener in Bulawayo.
Orlando Pirates were far from their best as they drew 0-0 with FC Platinum in their CAF Champions League Group B opener in Bulawayo. Making their debut at this stage of the competition, Zimbabwean Premier Soccer League champions Platinum FC showed plenty of spirit and attacking intent as they kept the Pirates defenders on their toes for most of the match. Platinum were given an early chance to show what they could do from the setpiece after earning a free kick on the edge of the area, but William Stima’s shot was well wide. There was more enterprising play from their lone frontman Kheli Dube, as the home side showed they were more than up for the challenge early on. The action soon heated up at the other end when Thembinkosi Lorch teed up Justin Shonga at the far post, but the Zambian’s effort was well blocked by the keeper. FCP then tried a shot from considerable distance, leading to some hearty cheers from their fans as it forced an outstretched save from Jackson Mabokgwane. Shortly after, Devon Chafa found himself with loads of time and space to fire a volley at the Pirates goal, and though the shot was saved, Milutin Sredojevic would not have been happy to see the defender have that much room on the ball. Pirates had a great chance to go in front when Innocent Maela rose to meet a corner from Kudakwashe Mahachi, but the direction of the defender’s header let him down. Despite the chance, Platinum were definitely enjoying the better of the exchanges in the first half, and the Bucs were growing increasingly frustrated at the amount of defending they were being forced to do. Lorch did have another chance to put the visitors up just before half-time, but he was denied by the keeper, who proved equal to the shot. Sredojevic would have been hoping for an immediate improvement after half-time, but instead it was the home side who continued to put the visitors from South Africa under defensive pressure. As the second half wore on, the Buccaneers did gain a bigger share of possession, but the final ball continued to elude them. Having left them on the bench for the start of the match, Sredojevic brought on both Augustine Mulenga and Vincent Pule midway through the second half to try and force the issue up front. But despite a decent shout for a penalty with 10 minutes to go after Pule was brought down in the box, the two forwards couldn’t find a winning goal and the Bucs had to settle for a share of the spoils.