ES Setif 0-0 Orlando Pirates: Bucs kickstart Confederation Cup group stage with hard-earned point
After one round of matches in Group A, Nigerian outfit Enyimba lead the standings after their 2-1 win over Al Ahli Benghazi earlier in the day
Orlando Pirates began their Group A Caf Confederation Cup campaign with a 0-0 stalemate against Algerian outfit ES Setif in a match played at the neutral venue of the Stade Accra Sports Stadium in Ghana.
Bucs made a bit of a ponderous start and were indebted to a fantastic goal-line clearance from Siphesihle Ndlovu after goalkeeper Richard Ofori had been caught out of position in the sixth minute.
Ofori, back in his home country, was to suffer a big disappointment when he was replaced by Siyabonga Mpontshane in the 14th minute, having hurt his groin while taking a corner kick.
The Algerian side, Champions League winners in 2014, subsequently looked to put Mpontshane under pressure with some aerial balls into the box, but the Sea Robbers custodian showed good composure.
Pirates began to create a few openings of their own around the half hour mark although they never really threatened opposition keeper Sofiane Khedairia as Thabang Monare sent in a tame header before Happy Jele headed over from a Deon Hotto free-kick.
Bucs remained positive after the interval and more openings followed. But the score-board stayed the same as Fortune Makaringe sent an effort wide before Vincent Pule fired over the bar from long range and Thulani Hlatshwayo misdirected a header.
With the Algerian side also looking to up the ante, Pirates needed a brave block by captain Happy Jele to keep their goal intact on the hour mark, while Makaringe did well to deny Mohammed Amoure a chance.
Down the left flank, Paseka Mako was giving the Setif defence plenty to think about with his his marauding runs and he had a shot blocked before returning the favour by blocking an effort in his own box soon after.
The physical nature of the contest meanwhile took its toll when Jele was stretchered off injured in the 84th minute and replaced by Innocent Maela.
The Soweto side had a late chance to snatch all three points when Monare’s 93rd minute free kick picked out Pule, but again the header lacked precision.