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Goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa saved two penalties Sunday as 10-man Orlando Pirates held on to qualify for the CAF Champions League group phase.
The South African club lost 1-0 away to TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo in a clash of former title-holders, but squeezed into the last eight 3-2 on aggregate.
Also through to the May 14 draw are title-holders Al-Ahly and Zamalek of Egypt, AC Leopards of Congo Brazzaville, Sewe San Pedro of Ivory Coast, Esperance of Tunisia, Recreativo Libolo of Angola and Coton Sport of Cameroon.
Meyiwa, who forced his way into Pirates' starting line-up last season after many years as an understudy, stopped spot kicks from Eric Bokanga on 50 minutes and Tresor Mputu two minutes from time.
But he was helpless to prevent Jean Kasusula scoring after 72 minutes to set up a tense climax in southern Congolese mining city Lubumbashi as the Buccaneers repulsed continuous attacks.
The only South African winners of the premier CAF club competition were reduced to 10 men late in the opening half when veteran centre-back Lucky Lekgwathi received a harsh straight red card.
Overall success was a massive relief for coach and former South Africa goalkeeper Roger de Sa, who has come under fire from supporters after woeful domestic league form.
Chasing a South African Premiership title hat-trick, Pirates flew to DR Congo having won just one of nine league matches and they trail leaders and arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs by seven points with three matches to play.
Zamalek, whose five Champions League titles is the second best record behind the seven of Cairo neighbours Ahly, snatched a late 2-2 draw at Saint George of Ethiopia to advance on the away-goal rule after a 1-1 stalemate in Cairo.
Burkina Faso-born striker Abdoulaye Cisse was the two-goal star for the White Knights, opening the scoring after two minutes and levelling with a header two minutes from time.
Shimeles Bekele equalised 14 minutes into the opening half at a packed 30,000-capacity national stadium in Addis Ababa and Isaac Isinde edged the Saints in front just before half-time.
Ahly veterans Mohamed Barakat and Emad Moteab scored the second-half goals that set up a 2-1 win over Tunisian visitors CA Bizertin in a Cairo game played behind closed doors owing to security concerns.
Barakat converted a penalty and Moteab struck just past the hour mark before substitute Nour Hadhria halved the deficit from a spot kick for Bizertin, whose cause was not helped by the late expulsion of Mohamed al-Mohazabi.
Last-16 losers Mazembe, Saint George, Bizertin, JSM Bejaia and Entente Setif of Algeria, Stade Malien of Mali, FUS Rabat of Morocco and Enugu Rangers of Nigeria drop to the second-tier CAF Confederation Cup.