South African Premiership leaders Orlando Pirates snatched a late victory today and Mamelodi Sundowns rose to second by winning their first game since death threats led coach Antonio Lopez to quit.
Zambian Isaac Chansa converted a penalty four minutes from full-time to give the Buccaneers a 1-0 win over bottom-of-the-table Mpumalanga Black Aces in north-east city Nelspruit. And Zimbabwe-born caretaker coach Ian Gorowa was grateful to compatriot Nyasha Mushekwi for his two first half goals that set Sundowns on course for a 3-1 triumph against Santos in Pretoria.
Resurgent Wits University trounced Vasco da Gama 6-0 in Johannesburg with midfielder Sifiso Myeni celebrating his call-up for a friendly against Kenya next Wednesday by scoring twice.
Pirates have 41 points after 19 rounds, Sundowns 38, Ajax Cape Town 37 and Kaizer Chiefs 36 in a four-team race for the $1.3m first prize and a 2012 African Champions League place. Sundowns, champions a record five times since the Premiership kicked off in 1996, visit Pirates next Saturday for a match likely to have a major bearing on who tops the final table.
Blackout postpones Chiefs game
Chiefs have a game in hand as their home fixture against Moroka Swallows at Soccer City, where Spain won the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ final against the Netherlands, was postponed because a copper cable theft blacked out the stadium.
Pirates suffered a shock 1-0 home loss to Aces in the first round and once again they found the club from mining town Witbank difficult to break down before a large Mbombela Stadium crowd. Aces had midfielder Benedict Vilakazi sent off with six minutes left and when veteran defender Fabian McCarthy conceded a penalty, Chansa sent Francis Chansa the wrong way.
Sundowns recovered swiftly from yesterday's announcement that Spaniard Lopez had resigned on the advice of his family after a run of disappointng results had triggered death threats. Mushekwi, a close-season signing from Zimbabwe club CAPS United, raised his league goal tally to eight thanks to a glancing header off a corner and a low drive after springing an offside trap.
Swazi Tony Tsabedze cut the deficit before half-time with a close-range shot past Wayne Sandilands and Sundowns supporters endured anxious moments before Richard Henyekane made the points safe through a stoppage-time goal.