CAF CC: RS Berkane edge Orlando Pirates to win the title
Morocco’s Renaissance Berkane claimed their second Caf Confederation Cup title in two years as South African giants Orlando Pirates suffered an agonising penalty shoot-out defeat in Uyo, Nigeria.
Berkane keeper Hamza Hamiani Akbi saved Thembinkosi Lorch’s spot-kick – Pirates’ second – while the Moroccans were flawless in their execution, scoring all five after the game had finished 1-1 after extra time.
Lorch, who dramatically levelled for Pirates in the 117th minute after Youssef El Fahli had put the North Africans ahead from the spot seven minutes into extra time, was consoled by team-mates after his decisive miss.
Pirates were on top for large spells but failed to make their dominance count, with Hamiani producing three brilliant saves to stop the Buccaneers.
Berkane previously won the Confederation Cup in 2020, having finished runners-up a year earlier.
Pirates, who lost on their sole appearance in the Confederation Cup final in 2015 to Tunisia’s Etoile du Sahel, missed several opportunities to win a match they largely dominated.
The 1995 African Champions League winners missed two golden chances in the first half with Namibia international Deon Hotto the biggest culprit, twice from close range.
Happy Jele and Bandile Shandu fluffed their chances, too, with Pirates dominant in possession but creating few chances.
Mehdi Oubila and El Fahli had Berkane’s best efforts, but the Orange Boys never looked like scoring.
DR Congo’s Chadrack Lukombe threatened but met fierce resistance from Pirates centre-back Olisa Ndah, who enjoyed special support from the local fans.
Pirates ended the second period looking more confident and desperate to win the game inside the 90 minutes, but goalkeeper Hamiani responded with urgency to deny the South Africans.
There was little between the two exhausted teams in the opening period of extra time but the North Africans’ tactical discipline paid off after seven minutes.
Youssef El Fahli, his club’s leading scorer in the Confederation Cup this season, grabbed his sixth of the competition.
He broke the deadlock in the 97th minute to put Berkane in front from the spot and past Richard Ofori.
The VAR penalty was given by Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe after substitute Thabang Monare committed a foul inside the box.
But Pirates pulled level ten minutes later as Lorch steer the ball past a stunned Hamiani to send the fans in Uyo into wild celebration.
His ecstasy quickly dwindled in the shoot outs, as Lorch was the only player to fluff his lines as his effort was saved by Hamiani after the first two shots had found the net.
It came down to Brahim El Bahraoui to settle the contest and the experienced forward, like all his team-mates, kept his cool to send his team to another continental triumph.
Known as the Orange Boys because they hail from the citrus-growing northeast of Morocco, Berkane lost to Zamalek on penalties in the 2019 final but returned a year later to beat another Egyptian club, Pyramids.
Former DR Congo boss Florent Ibenge was given a huge applause by his Berkane players inside the Nest of Champions.