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Orlando Pirates 2-0 JS Saoura: Bucs off to flying start in Caf Confederation Cup Group B

5:17 am AEDT 14/2/22
Deon Hotto of Orlando Pirates challenged by Oussama Bellatrache of JS Saoura, February 2022
Deon Hotto provided the assist for the second goal as the 2015 runners-up brushed aside the tournament debutants

Orlando Pirates began their Caf Confederation Cup Group B campaign with a 2-0 win over JS Saoura in a match that took place at Orlando Stadium on Sunday evening.

Happy Jele opened the scoring to hand the Buccaneers an early lead, before Bandile Shandu sealed the Premier Soccer League giants' win over the Algerian side - making it four victories in a row across all competitions. 

Co-coaches Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids decided to name an unchanged team with Pirates having secured a 1-0 win over AmaZulu FC in the Nedbank Cup clash last weekend. Olisa Ndah and Kwame Peprah made their debut for Pirates in the Confederation Cup after being registered by the Soweto giants.

On the other hand, Aimen Lahmeri, who scored four goals in the qualifying rounds, led Sauora's attack. The diminutive striker was involved in the build-up when the Eagles fired the game's first shot on target through Abdeljalil Saad, who forced goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane into a smart save at the near post. 

Almost immediately at the other end, Pirates took an early lead through their captain, Jele. The veteran defender poked the ball home from close range to make it 1-0 to Pirates in the third minute after keeper Zakaria Saidi had parried Goodman Mosele's attempt into Jele's path following Thembinkosi Lorch's well-taken free-kick.

The Eagles looked dangerous every time they launched an attack and they nearly levelled matters through Belaid Hamdi as the 26-year-old midfielder was afforded time and space to unleash a fierce shot which was spectacularly saved by Mpontshane. Pirates then contained the visitors and they were leading 1-0 at half-time.

Sauora continued to exert pressure on the hosts' defence after the restart - forcing Pirates to sit back and play on the counterattack. Mohamed Hammia found himself unmarked in the hosts' box, but he unleashed a tame shot which was comfortably saved by Mpontshane.

With the Eagles dominating the midfield battle, the Bucs technical team decided to make changes with Ben Motshwari replacing Thabang Monare, who looked exhausted. Abel Mabaso, a defensive-minded player, replaced Ntsako Makhubela as the Buccaneers looked to regain control of the game and also protect their narrow lead.

The move paid off as Pirates doubled their lead through Shandu, who had been pushed forward into a right-wing position from right-back following Mabaso's introduction. Deon Hotto played a low cross into the box and Shandu turned the ball home to make it 2-0 to the hosts in the 66th minute with Lorch having started the move.

The goal deterred Saoura, who then sat back in the closing stages of the game and this allowed Pirates to dominate possession and ultimately, the Soweto giants emerged 2-0 winners on the night.

Bucs are now set to take on Lamontville Golden Arrows in a PSL encounter on Wednesday before they travel to Libya where they will face Al Ittihad in a Group B game on Sunday.