Pirates have one foot in CAF Confed Cup.

Orlando Pirates are well-placed to reach the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup after beating Jwaneng Galaxy 3-0 in the preliminary round, first leg fixture at the Gaborone National Stadium in Botswana, on Sunday afternoon.

Three away goals are almost certain to guarantee Pirates a place in the group stage of the continental competition. Pirates last played in the Confederation Cup group stage in 2015. For Galaxy, it was another disappointment against South African opposition. Last month, Galaxy was eliminated from the Champions League by Mamelodi Sundowns who advanced with a 5-1 aggregate.

By halftime, Orlando Pirates was leading by 1-0 after defender, Thulani Hlatshwayo scored with a header from a corner by Namibian Deon Hotto. The set-piece, just past the half-hour mark, caught the Galaxy defence napping as Hotto was left unmarked for what looked like a free header.

The goal was well deserved since Pirates held the upper hand for most of the first half. Close to the halftime break, Pirates defence was under pressure but leftback, Paseka Makocame to light with a desperate clearance to keep his team’s slender 1-0 lead intact.

Galaxy goalkeeper, Ezekiel Morake made two excellent saves to singlehandedly deny Pirates. Soon after Hlatshwayo’s goal, midfielder Fortune Makaringe set off on a solo effort which might have resulted in a goal but Morake pulled out a great save.

Morake also gathered a well-taken Hotto free kick from outside the Galaxy goalmouth. Pirates were awarded a free kick after Zimbabwean front-runner, Terrence Dzvukamanja was fouled.

When the second half play resumed, Pirates played with the same intensity and Galaxy was forced to settle for a largely defensive role. Galaxy’s defence worked hard to keep Pirates at bay but towards the end, Pirates’ pressure took its toll and leaked two goals in as many minutes.

Midfielder, Linda Mntambo made it 2-0 with a powerful low drive through a packed goalmouth after an assist by Mako and then substitute Jean-Marc Makusu made his presence count with the side’s third goal, three minutes from the end of regulation time.

The DR Congo-born Makusu scored with a deft volley after he shook off his marker. It was Makusu’s first goal for Pirates. It could well have been 4-0 in the 90th minute but Mntambo, seeking to score a second goal, was denied by Morake.

Galaxy midfielder Ricardo Lourenco, a former Pirates player, managed the final shot of the game after he slipped past one opposition defender, but his parting shot was wayward. The return leg will be played in Johannesburg on Sunday, the 21st.

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