Ahead of this game, the Buccaneers were in a comfortable position in their group, sitting on six points from three fixtures, while the visitors from Sfax struggled to a single point from the same amount of games.
Following a 1-0 away victory for Eric Tinkler’s side in Tunisia at the end of July, Sfaxien knew that the Johannesburg encounter would be a must-win, but Pirates had other plans, with goals from Thabo Rakhale and Menzi Masuku almost guaranteeing the South Africans a spot amongst the last four in the second tier continental club competition.
The visitors produced their first chance in the 13th minute, but Slim Mezlini wasted his effort and miskicked wide of the target. The Pirates defence neutralised numerous chances, using counterattacking football to trouble Paulo Duarte’s men, and eventually a breakthrough was made when Rakhale scored a wonderful goal in the 37th minute.
The stunning strike from the 25-year-old allowed the Buccaneers to go into the break with the advantage and a psychological edge over the visitors.
In the 51st minute Sfaxien wasted a free kick in a dangerous position, and would live to regret it, as only three minutes later midfielder Masuku made it 2-0 for Pirates with a clinical finish.
Masuku’s goal gave the 29-year-old confidence, and he attempted several shots at goal in the minutes that followed his original strike, failing to find the target but keeping the Sfaxien keeper on his toes as his attempts flew over the crossbar.
Sfaxien were visibly shaken by the second goal, and struggled to muster the courage to continue fighting for the three points they so desperately needed. Their final attempt came in the 88th minute as Mejdi Mosrati tried to beat Pirates keeper Mhlongo, but the shot-stopper was equal to the task, and a few minutes later the referee ended the game with the score at 2-0 in favour of the home side.
The result means that Sfaxien will not add to their record as the most successful club in the competition, having won the Confederations Cup title on three occasions, as they cannot progress from the group in the remaining two games.
Group leaders Zamalek have a chance to go three points clear of Pirates on a maximum of 12 points if they defeat AC Leopards in Congo on Sunday, which would then send both Group B teams to the semi-finals. Tinkler and his Soweto side will be watching closely and hoping that the White Knights defeat their Congolese opposition, so that they can celebrate progression to the semis.
8.8.2015 Etoile du Sahel (Tunisia) vs Al Ahly (Egypt)
9.8.2015 16H30 Stade Malien (Mali) vs Esperance (Tunisia)
8.8.2015 Orlando Pirates (South Africa) 2-0 CS Sfaxien (Tunisia)
9.8.2015 15H30 AC Leopards (Congo) vs Zamalek (Egypt)