Monday, November 28 2022

Moroccan dominance of the CAF Confederation Cup continued in Uyo, Nigeria, on Friday as Renaissance Berkane beat South Africans Orlando Pirates 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 draw following extra time.

Youssef el Fahli scored his sixth goal of the second-tier African competition for Berkane seven minutes into extra time from a penalty awarded after the referee reviewed a foul on a VAR monitor.

Pirates levelled on 117 minutes when a tame shot from Thembinkosi Lorch evaded everyone in a crowded goalmouth to draw the clubs level.

Berkane scored from all five penalties in the shootout with the decisive fifth converted by substitute Brahim el Bahraoui.

Moroccan clubs have won a record seven of the 19 editions, including four of the last five with Raja Casablanca and Berkane claiming two titles each.

Pirates squandered several chances to become the first South African winners of the Confederation Cup in regular time with Deon Hotto the chief culprit.

Pirates’ co-coaches Fadlu Davids and Mandla Ncikazi made one change from the side that began a shock 1-0 home loss to Al Ahly Tripoli last Sunday in the second leg of a semi-final they won 2-1 on aggregate.

Out went right-back Abel Mabaso with Bandile Shandu dropping back from midfield to take his place and Kabelo Dlamini coming in to inject more attacking pace.

Berkane showed two changes from the team that triumphed 4-1 at home against TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo to wipe out a 1-0 first-leg deficit in the other semi-final.

DR Congo-born coach Florent Ibenge preferred Mehdi Oubila to Hamza Regragui in midfield and chose Charki el Bahri ahead of Brahim el Bahraoui to lead a three-man forward line.

Both teams donned their traditional colours with Pirates in an all-black outfit and Berkane wearing orange shirts with black collars and white shorts.

– Wasted chances –

Pirates wasted a good chance to take the lead within four minutes when Namibian Hotto found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Hamza Hamiani Akbi, but struck the ball straight at the shot-stopper.

Although a centre-back, Pirates captain Happy Jele has a knack of scoring goals and was not far off target with a header that flew just over the crossbar.

The South African club were looking the likelier scorers and Akbi had to get down quickly to parry a Shandu shot 34 minutes into the opening half.

Burkina Faso centre-back Issoufou Dayo, whose goal won the 2020 Confederation Cup final against Egyptian outfit Pyramids, executed a superb tackle to deny Hotto a scoring chance close to the break.

Hotto then disappointed from a free-kick just outside the box, sending the ball well over the bar when the expectation was that he would at least test Akbi.

Berkane finally gave Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori some work in first half added-time as Youssef el Fahli unleashed a shot that was so hard the Ghanaian could not grasp it, but the ball was cleared.

If the first half offered little excitement for the predominantly Nigerian crowd, the second half was devoid of goalmouth action and ended with the final still goalless.

After announcing this week that the final would go straight to a penalty shootout if drawn after regular time, the organisers said on the eve of the title decider that there would be extra time.



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