A host of missed chances cost Orlando Pirates as they drew 0-0 at home to CS Sfaxien of Tunisia in the first leg of their CAF Champions League semi-final in Johannesburg on Saturday.
Congo international striker Blaise Mbele and substitute Phumelo Manenzhe missed golden opportunities from close range in a storming second half display by the South Africans.
CS Sfaxien's team work and effort in the middle of the field, which had carried them to the top of the group standings in the group phase of the competition, stood them in good stead as they battled with the altitude and fluent display from Pirates at Ellis Park.
However, they still managed to offer South African side a host of chances, which where wasted by the Buccaneers. The Orlando Pirates managed just four goals in six matches in the group phase and their profligacy in front of goal was evident again in this match.
Mbele, who has scored five goals in this year's competition, did not manage a single shot on target despite several attempts and substitute Manenzhe missed the best chance of the game, when he hooked the ball wide from six yards out in the final stages of the match.
It leaves the South Africans, who won the title 11 years ago, with a mountain to climb in the return leg in Sfax on 14 October, even though they were became the first side in this year's competition to not concede a goal to the Tunisian team.
Al Ahly in pole position
There is the likelihood of a second successive clash between Egyptian and Tunisian teams in the final later this month as Al Ahly gave themselves a two-goal advantage.
Last year the Red Devils defeated Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in the final and, after a 2-0 victory over ASEC Abidjan 2-0 in Cairo late on Sunday night, Al Ahly look well on course for a second successive appearance in the deciding match of the continent's top club tournament.
The Egyptians seemed well content with their two first-half goals at the Cairo International stadium, dropping the pace considerably in the second half. Mohamed Aboutrika scored his sixth goal of the campaign to put the hosts ahead on 25 minutes and Emad Moteab grabbed his fifth in this year's competition seven minutes before half-time to give Al Ahly a valuable lead for the return leg in Abidjan on 15 October.
Winger Tarek Said was the provider of both goals, chipping for substitute Amro Samaka to lay off for Aboutrika to score the opener. Aboutrika's goal came just after two efforts had been well saved with by ASEC's Burkina Faso international goalkeeper Mohamed Kabore.
However, Kabore was at fault in the 38th minute when he allowed Moteab's header from Said's cross to slip through his hands for the second goal of the match.
ASEC had the majority of the possession after the interval, but they struggled to create clear-cut chances. The Ivorian champions, who had finished top of their group in the league phase, were restricted to long-range efforts which rarely tested a limping Essam Al Hadari in Ahly's goal.