It was a story of so near, yet so far for Orlando Pirates when they missed out on an opportunity to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Caf Champions League after going down 2-1 to Horoya in Conakry on Saturday.
Pirates needed nothing less than a victory to reach the next stage of the competition and to finish as runners-up to Esperance of Tunisia who finished on top with 14 points after six game in Group B. But the loss saw Bucs go out on six points, leaving Horoya to go through as runners-up with 10 points.
Coach Micho Sredojevic believes his side started the game well, but injury to midfielder Xola Mlambo in the first half caused them to change their tactical plan and his absence was notable.
“We had a wonderful first half, we started very well and had chances. We had situations where we had our opponents on the back foot. However, Xola Mlambo got injured we had to replace him,” said Sredojevic.
“The Horoya coach (Patrice Neveu) also brought on a replacement to strengthen and tighten their defence, however our midfield was shaken by the absence of Mlambo.”
Sredojevic explained that after the home side scored their first goal they had to attack more, which put them in danger of conceding the second and his players also seemed to be struggling with the humidity.
“It was a game of two halves, and it seemed like our players were affected by the weather, their body language was not good and we conceded the first goal which put us at a disadvantage as we had to risk more by going on attack.
“When you do that, you have a chance to gain and also concede and that’s what happened with the second goal. We threw more players forward, but it wasn’t enough,” he said.