Orlando Pirates sent out a strong warning to the rest of clubs competing in the African club championship when they dismantled a hapless Zamalek side 4-1 in an Orange CAF Champions League group stage match played at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
Goals from Lennox Bacela, Tlou Segolela, Sifiso Myeni and Daine Klaite, completed a miserable day for the Egyptian side which had showed fighting spirit in the first half in which they came back from a goal down to equalise in the 29thminute through Mahmoud Abdel Razel Fadlallah, “Shikabala”.
However, all hope of coming out of Soweto with something evaporated after the Buccaneers put up a vintage performance which will send warning signals to the rest of Africa that the 1995 champions are here to challenge for honours.
Elated Bucs coach Roger de Sa said in a post match press conference that he could not have asked more from his swashbuckling side.
“This was a vintage performance and I am really proud of my boys. We are going for a return leg in Egypt very confident of repeating the same performance,” said a smiling de Sa whose side beat Al Ahly 3-0 a fortnight ago in Cairo.
“We are hitting good form at the right time and with this form, we can take on any team in the competition. We now need to continue fighting and fighting and I am beginning to have a feeling that we might have a campaign to remember this year.”
However, Zamalek’s assistant coach Usama Neabih who was spoke to journalists after the match said his side was missing key players and with three games to play at home, he was still positive that the side will move away from the foot of the log to qualify for the semi-finals.
“We were hampered by the absence of our key players who were not available but we are still in the running despite having a single point. We have three games to play and all of them are at home, so we have not lost hope and are very much hopeful of progressing to the semi-finals,” said Neabih.
Pirates who had come out with guns blazing in the first half, took the lead in the 27thminute when Bacela shielded the defender on the age of the box to fire a crisp shot that gave Zamalek goalkeeper Rehim no chance.
The visitors hit back almost immediately when captain Fadlalla’s rasping shot gave Senzo Meyiwa in goals for Pirates no chance.
The two sides then exchanged fierce counter-attacks for the rest of the first half but all was to change in the second stanza.
First, Segolela collected a good pass from Bacela and finished with aplomb to give Bucs a 2-1 advantage.
He then turned provider in the 69thminute but Bacela’s effort was ruled offside.
After that it was one way traffic as Myeni made it 3-1 with a close finish and Klaite compounded Zamalek’s misery with the fourth in the 82 ndminute.
The Soweto giants now sit on top of the standings with seven points followed by AC Leopards and Al Ahly who both have four points.