Goal-shy Orlando Pirates held by Esperance
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Goal-shy Orlando Pirates flopped again Saturday when held 0-0 at home by Esperance in the first leg of their CAF Champions League semi-final.

It was the third consecutive blank for the South African side in the premier African club competition and jeopardises their chances of reaching the decider.

The clubs meet again on 19 October at the national stadium in Tunisia with the 'Blood and Gold' favoured to reach a fourth consecutive final.

Defending champions Al Ahly and Coton Sport must play again in Cameroon Sunday after torrential rain forced the other first leg to be abandoned just short of the hour mark.

A goalless game was halted by the Zambian referee when rain dotted the pitch with puddles and wind blew down advertising boards.

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced that the fixture would be replayed Sunday at the Roumde Adjia stadium in northern cotton city Garoua.

Pirates coach Roger de Sa must long for the early rounds of the group stage when Pirates scored three goals away to Ahly and four at home to another Egyptian side, Zamalek.

Esperance boasted a superb defensive record ahead of the Orlando Stadium clash with seven clean sheets in ten matches.

And goalkeeper Moez Ben Cherifia was a virtual spectator for most of the match as Pirates left striker Lennox Bacela isolated up front.

Wide midfielders Daine Klate and Sifiso Myeni made little impact against an Esperance defence packed with experienced Tunisian national team regulars.

Myeni headed a Klate cross narrowly wide in the only anxious moment of the first half for the Tunis-based two-time African champions.

Pirates, the only South African winners of the competition, came closest to breaking the deadlock five minutes from time.

Renowned for his long-range shots, defender Thabo Matlaba unleashed a drive that appeared goal bound until Cherifia acrobatically pushed the ball away with one hand.

Muscular Cameroonian striker Yannick N'Djeng troubled Pirates several times with one shot just off target and another forcing Senzo Meyiwa to make a snap save.

When the Soweto Buccaneers last reached the semi-finals seven years ago, they were also held 0-0 at home by a Tunisian side and lost the return game 1-0 at CS Sfaxien.

Ahly, winners of the Champions League a record seven times, had the edge over Coton, the club they defeated in the 2008 decider.

Mohamed Abou Trika and Abdullah Al-Saied went close with first-half headers and fellow midfielder Walid Soliman squandered a good chance just before play was stopped.

Coton, who exceeded expectations by reaching the penultimate stage, came closest soon after half-time when Moussa Yedan was one-on-one with goalkeeper Sherif Ekrami.

The title winners earn €1.1m and qualify for the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco, the first African hosts of the tournament.