Orlando Pirates’ CAF Champions League campaign is on the line despite coming from two goals down in their 2-2 stalemate with FC Platinum of Zimbabwe in their penultimate Group B match on Friday night at Orlando Stadium.
Bucs made three alterations from their 1-1 stalemate with Bloemfontein Celtic on Tuesday as Brazilian defender Caio Marcelo made the cut while Xolani Mlambo and Luvuyo Memela were preferred in the starting side.
Pirates had a shaky start in the early stages and conceded a penalty in the 19th minute after a handball in the area by Marcelo, but Never Tigere of Platinum could not capitalise as goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands saved his spot-kick.
Tigere, though, put the Platinum Boys ahead in the 27th minute with a low strike from outside the area that Bucs defender Alfred Ndengane diverted into his own net, as he wrong footed Sandilands, 0-1.
Rainsome Pavari doubled the lead for Norman Mapeza’s charges eight minutes before the break with an easy tap-in after Perfect Chikwende beat Ndengane for pace at the near post to play a square ball, 0-2.
The hosts tried to pull a goal back before the break but Platinum were resolute at the back to head to halftime with a 2-0 lead.
Justin Shonga came close to reducing the deficit for Milutin Sredojevic’s troops ten minutes into the second stanza with a free-kick from just outside the box that was parried away at the bottom corner by Platinum shot-stopper Petros Mhari.
Sredojevic was looking for more numbers in attack with 20 minutes remaining as he brought on striker Thamsanqa Gabuza in place of midfielder Musa Nyatama.
Shonga should have pulled a goal back for Bucs in the 72nd minute with a free header inside the box, but it was saved by Mhari following a cross from Memela.
Thembinkosi Lorch gave the hosts hope of a come-back when he pulled a goal back with nine minutes remaining, striking a fierce shot that beat Mhari at his near post after being given enough space on the far side of the box, 2-1.
Augustine Mulenga scored the equaliser for Pirates in the 87th minute with a side-footed shot to the top corner after lurking deep on the far side of the box following a well-worked corner-kick, 2-2.
Platinum suffered a blow as Kevin Moyo was red-carded in stoppage time, but Pirates could not find the winner with Mhari denying Kudakwashe Mahachi from close range deep in stoppage time.
The Bucs remained third in Group B with six points, a point behind second-placed Horoya while the already eliminated Platinum remained rock bottom with two points.
Pirates need to win their last game against Horoya to progress to the knockout rounds.
Here is how they lined up.
Pirates: 25 Sandilands, 4 Jele, 21 Ndengane, 6 Marcelo (Mulenga 48′), 23 Maela, 3 Lorch, 20 Mlambo, 14 Nyatama (Gabuza 70′), 7 Mahachi, 11 Memela, 12 Shonga.
Subs: 16 Mabokgwane, 19 Munetsi, 18 Mobara, 13 Mabaso, 5 Makola, 17 Mulenga, 9 Gabuza.
Platinum: 1 Mhari, 15 Bello, 21 E. Moyo, 7 Maduviwa, 10 Sadiki (Stima 85′), 24 K. Moyo, 6 Madzongwe, 12 Tigere (Chafa 94′), 17 Kutsanzira, 18 Pavari, 4 Chikwende (Madhanaga 82′).
Subs: 3 Madhanaga, 5 Taitamba, 9 Dube, 11 Chideu, 14 Stima, 16 Tizayi, 26 Murwira