Four-star Raja sink Pirates to storm into semis

Raja team photo

Raja Club Athletic put up a sensational first half performance to beat Orlando Pirates 4-0 on the day and 5-1 on aggregate as the Green Eagles stormed into the semi-finals of the Total CAF Confederation Cup on Sunday.

Ben Malango and Soufiane Rahimi were the stars of the Raja side, Malango scoring twice while Rahimi had a goal and two assists as the Moroccan outfit completely outplayed The Bucaneers to progress in the competition.

In the semis, Raja will face off with last year’s losing finalists Pyramids of Egypt.

Pirates were punished after losing a brilliant opportunity to break the deadlock inside six minutes. Siphesihle Ndlovu was sent through on goal but couldn’t beat Anas Zniti one on one and from the rebound, Maliele Pule also saw his shot saved by Zniti.

Immediately, the South Africans were made to pay.

Malango adjusted his neck brilliantly to power in a header from Omar Arjoune’s cross from the right. The visitors almost replied five minutes later, but Sakhile Maela’s nifty touch off Thembinkosi Lorch’s cross from the left hit the side netting.

On the quarter hour mark, they wasted yet another golden opportunity when Deon Hotto was sent through on goal by Pule, but Zniti once again pulled off an incredible save.

Raja v Orlando Pirates2

As if the same script was followed, Pirates were punished for missing. Raja made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute thanks to some suspect defending from the visitors. Skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo lost the ball cheaply and Rahimi picked up to play Zakaria El Wardi through, the latter slapping the ball home.

Malango should have had his second in the 26th minute when he was put through by Rahimi, but he couldn’t beat keeper Wayne Sandilands one on one. But, four minutes later, the roles changed and it was 3-0.

The Congolese forward sent Rahimi through and the latter beat Sandilands with a delightful chip. Malango then completed his brace nine minutes to halftime with another cheeky dink over the keeper after being put through by Rahimi.

In the second half, Raja played it easy, knocking the ball around for fun with no pressure, while Pirates seemed to have already accepted their verdict.