Etoile du Sahel seize narrow advantage over Orlando Pirates

Orlando Pirates hosting Etoile du Sahel
Orlando Pirates hosting Etoile du Sahel

Orlando Pirates of South Africa conceded a late goal in Soweto to hand Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia a narrow advantage as they drew 1-1 in the first leg of the African Confederation Cup final.

The Buccaneers thrilled the home fans by taking the lead through Thamsanqa Gabuza in the 36th minute.

He fired in a fierce acute-angled shot past Zied Jebali, who started after first choice goalkeeper and captain Aymen Mathlouthi failed a fitness test.

Pirates were lucky to be ahead at half-time after Iheb Msakni had a goal ruled offside and star Algeria-born striker Baghdad Bounedjah and Hamza Lahmar went close.

Etoile's quest for an equaliser paid off as captain and centre-back Ammar Jemal slammed a loose ball beyond goalkeeper Felipe Ovono from close range in the 87th minute to silence most of the 30,000 Soweto crowd.

Speaking after the match, Jemal told reporters what his equaliser meant to him.

"I think it is the best goal of my life," Etoile's captain said.

Despite conceding the late equaliser, Pirates coach Eric Tinkler said that the "destiny of the trophy remains wide open."

"We neither gained nor lost anything after this result," Eric Tinkler said.

"Of course we wanted to keep a clean sheet at home and a lapse of concentration gave Etoile a late equaliser. I thought we defended well until then.

"Etoile are a good team - well organised defensively with some big, strong boys," Tinkler added.

But the coach said he was not happy with some of the opposing players' tactics.

"Some of them dived so much I thought they were swimming at the Olympics.

"What the draw means is that instead of them coming at us in Tunisia, we will have to go at them. Scoring in every away CAF match this season gives us confidence," said Tinkler.

That deciding match will be played at Stade Olympique in Sousse, Tunisia on Sunday 29 November.

The overall winners receive $660,000 and qualify for a one-off Super Cup match against African Champions League winners TP Mazembe in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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