Orlando Pirates’ hopes of securing the final CAF Champions League spot were officially dashed after letting a two-goal lead slip at Royal AM on Friday evening.
Result: Royal AM 2-2 Orlando Pirates
Date: 27 May 2022
Venue: Chatsworth Stadium
Pirates made only one change from the thumping win over Maritzburg United, as Ntsikelelo Nyauza came in for Happy Jele, who dropped to the bench while Royal AM rotated their side, with their leading goal-scorer Victor Letsoalo not available.
The Buccaneers had a perfect start as Deon Hotto bagged his eighth goal of the seaosn within the first three minutes with a clinical strike in the box after a cross by Thembinkosi Lorch.
The visitors remained on the front foot as Kwame Peprah doubled their lead four minutes later with a towering header after some good work by Hotto, who won the header at the far post to set up his strike partner.
John Maduka’s charges raised their game in attack after that but they did not have the cutting edge, as the Pirates defence dealt with their threats.
Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids’ men absorbed the pressure towards the end of the first stanza, but Hotto had an opportunity to extend the lead on the stroke of halftime with a free-kick on the edge of the box but ballooned his effort over the crossbar.
The home side pinned Pirates back in and around their own box in the opening exchanges of the second stanza but they could only trouble Richard Ofori on the hour-mark, as Mxolisi Macuphu’s dipping strike produced a reflex save from the Ghanaian shot-stopper.
However, the Buccaneers got out of their defensive shape after that and they made a double change in the 73rd minute as Abel Mabaso replaced Hotto for tactical reasons and Terrence Dzvukamanja came on for Peprah for fresh legs upfront.
Thwihli Thwahla got a lifeline in the last 11 minutes after former Pirates defender Thabo Matlaba found the back of the net with a stunning strike from distance that sailed into the top corner.
Pirates took no chances as they brought in two defenders Jele and Wayde Jooste to protect the result, however, they invited more pressure as Mfundo Thikazi snatched the equaliser for the hosts in stoppage time, as the sides shared the spoils.
The result means Cape Town City officially grab second spot, while Pirates will need to win by at least a five-goal margin against SuperSport United to return to the CAF Confederation Cup on Monday.
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