Orlando Pirates relinquished top spot in Group B after suffering defeat to CAF Champions League holders Esperance on Tuesday afternoon.
Milutin Sredojevic re-shuffled his pack from the weekend’s draw with Kaizer Chiefs as Justin Shonga, Paseko Mako, Linda Mntambo and Mbekile were drafted in.
The home side took control from the onset and were rewarded with the opening goal after 15 minutes, with Anice Badri firing home from a well-worked free-kick.
The Buccaneers were unable to stamp their authority on the encounter, having given away possession needlessly on numerous occasions.
The defending champions continued to push for a second goal and were nearly rewarded just before the break, but Pirates goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands came out on top with a good save to deny Ghaylène Chaalali.
At the other end, Esperance shot-stopper Rami Jridi enjoyed a quiet opening 45 minutes as the Buccaneers failed to register a single effort on target in the half.
Sredojevic wasted no time in changing things up at the start of the second as the in-effective Mako made way for Thamsanqa Gabuza, who only has one goal to his name this season.
After a shaky start, Sandilands was proving to be the difference in the second half as the Pirates shot-stopper produced a few crucial saves in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.
Justin Shonga was introduced after an hour and he nearly made the perfect impact with a left-footed volley that sailed just wide of the mark as Pirates upped the tempo.
With the last throw of the dice, Kudakwashe Mahachi was introduced for the final 12 minutes of the game, taking the place of Mbekile, who struggled defensively.
However, Esperance sealed the win with two minutes remaining as Badri turned provider to pick out Haythem Jouini, who buried the ball home from close range.
As a result, the defending champions move to the top of Group B, while the Soweto giants drop to second spot.
Here’s how they lined up:
Pirates: Sandilands, Jele, Ndengane, Mbekile (Mahachi 78′), Maela, Mntambo (Shonga 64′), Motshwari, Mako (Gabuza 46′), Pule, Lorch, Mulenga.
Subs: Mabokgwane, Munetsi, Nyatama, Mlambo, Mahachi, Shonga, Gabuza