Zakhele Lepassa came off the bench to score the winning goal in Orlando Pirates’ Caf Champions League game against Djabal Club d’Iconi on Saturday.
ZAKHELE Lepasa scored Orlando Pirates’ only goal of the game as they beat Djabal Club d’Iconi in the first leg of their Caf Champions League preliminary round in Comoros on Saturday afternoon.
Lepasa’s late winner at Stade de Moroni means that Pirates will take a huge advantage to Orlando for the second leg on Friday.
And for Djabal, this was a heart-breaking result given the fact that they looked to hold on for a dear clean sheet before Lepasa came off the bench to score the decisive goal.
Pirates were always favourites for this clash, given that they are one of the highest scoring teams in domestic football after racking up 10 goals in four matches since the start of the season this month.
But despite winning the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup last season, while they finished second in the league, the Champions League was a foreign territory for coach Jose Riveiro.
But the Spaniard proved that he’s got nerves made of steel, sticking to his words that he’d tweak his regular starting line-up, from the last four games in domestic football, for this match.
The eight changes included Richard Ofori who kept a clean sheet in his first return to competitive football after playing his last game for the club late last year due to an injury.
And while Ofori wasn’t troubled early on, his Djabal counterpart had to save his side from conceding, saving Relebohile Mofekeng’s shot before Deon Hotto’s set piece bounced out of play for a goal kick.
Pirates continued to pile the pressure on Djabal as Thabiso Monyane did well to connect with Monnapule Saleng, whose shot from inside the box drew a save from the keeper.
Pirates dominated possession for the better part of the first half, but Djabal also threatened the visitors’ goal after the half-an-hour mark but that didn’t bear fruit.
Instead, Pirates should have found the lead either via Hotto and Bienvenu Eva Nga who unfortunately struck wide before the hosts also missed their chance to get an unlikely lead before half-time.
Mofokeng and Saleng continued to make inroads into Djabal’s final third in the opening stages of the second half, but they were either denied by some brilliant goalkeeping or poor finishing.
With time running against them in search of a precious away goal, Riveiro threw into the fray Lepasa and Katlego Otladisa. A feat that nearly paid dividends from the outset as Lepasa’s shot was blocked.
And after Pirates continued to pile on the pressure on Djabal, Lepasa chipped in with the vital goal with three minutes from stoppage time to hand Pirates the win ahead of the second leg in Soweto on Friday.
This was Lepasa’s sixth goal in five matches since the start of the season. A feat that will appease Riveiro and the Ghost, who felt he had a lot to offer prior to being sent out on loan to SuperSport for the second half of last term.