Orlando Pirates were left with a mountain to climb after being held to a tepid goalless draw by 2011 champions Esperance of Tunisia in the Orange CAF Champions League match, first leg semi-final match played at Orlando Stadium on Saturday 5th October.
It is now advantage Esperance as they await for the Buccaneers in Tunisia in two weeks time.
Though any result is still possible, Maher Kanzari's charges will be the happier of the two sides and will start the final 90 minutes in the second leg as hot favourites. Watched by another disappointing crowd in this competition, Pirates began tentatively with the temperatures soaring to late 30s degrees taking its toll early on.
True to their promise, the visitors did not sit back, creating their own gilt-edged chances but as the match progressed seemed happy with a draw. The best chance of the first half fell in the 35th minute when a cross from Daine Klate was headed narrowly wide by Sifiso Myeni with the Esperance keeper well beaten.
Thereafter, Bucs piled the pressure as they searched for the opener but some desperate wayward shooting and resolute Tunisians defence made sure the two teams went to half time deadlocked on goalless draw.
Andile Jali then earned himself an unnecessary yellow card as he remonstrated with the referee.
Soon after second half, more frustration for the home side was evident as central defender Rooi Mahamutsa earned another yellow card for a late crude tackle.
Khaled Mouelli also got into the referee's book for a rough tackle on Lennox Bacela on the 60th minute as the otherwise clean game threatened to boil over.
The game then got bogged down midway through as the home side poured upfront looking for the vital goal that would put them in a driver's seat as the visitors sat back relying on swift counter attacks.
Lennox Bacela could have given Pirates the lead in the 85th minute after a searching cross from substitute Tlou Segolela but reacted a shade too slow.
Jali's dipping shot was then acrobatically saved by the Esperance goalkeeper two minutes later as the two teams headed for a goalless draw.
Here is what the two coaches said:
Roger de Sa (Orlando Pirates: They are a good side no doubt about that but today they seemed to play for a draw. There is still all to play for. They will open up at home and that will give us a few opportunities. We have done it before and we will play for the flag.
Maher Kanzari (Esperance): Pirates are a strong side but 0-0 is a bad result to us. I would have preferred to lose 2-1, at least we could have scored an away goal. Both teams played a tactical game but now I must prepare for a tough game at home.