Orlando Pirates pipped Ajax Cape Town on goal difference to win the South African Premiership title on Saturday after a dramatic climax to the season. The Buccaneers edged Golden Arrows 2-1 at Orlando Stadium in Soweto thanks to a fierce 84th-minute drive from Zambian midfielder Isaac Chansa to finish with 60 points and a plus-18 goal difference from 30 matches.
Ajax, who entered the final round with a two-point lead over Pirates, led and trailed Maritzburg United before having to settle for a 2-2 draw at Cape Town Stadium which took them to 60 points and a plus-14 goal difference.
Zimbabwean Knowledge Musona converted a late penalty to give Kaizer Chiefs a 2-1 win over AmaZulu in Durban and third place on 59 points and Mamelodi Sundowns beat Bloemfontein Celtic 3-1 to come fourth a point further back.
"Fantastic," screamed Pirates Dutch coach Ruud Krol while surrounded by jubilant, boisterous supporters who invaded the pitch when the full-time whistle sounded less than a minute after the Cape Town match ended. "It was a crazy game and I dedicate the title to my players, the club president and our wonderful supporters. Now the chances of a treble are in our hands."
Pirates face second-tier Black Leopards next Saturday in the South African FA Cup final having also won the Top 8 Cup - an early season knockout competition for the top eight finishers in the previous championship.
The three-year contract of 1974 and 1978 FIFA World Cup™ runner-up Krol ends next weekend and he has not been offered a new one, fuelling media speculation that he may move to Ajax Cape Town. It was a sad farewell to football for fellow Dutchman and Ajax handler Foppe de Haan, who retires at 67 after a three-decade coaching career without winning a club championship medal.
Victory for Ajax on the south-west tip of Africa would have rendered many other permutations redundant and they led 1-0 at half-time thanks to a 43rd-minute goal from Zimbabwean Khama Billiat after dominating Maritzburg.
Pirates took the lead slightly earlier than Ajax through a close-range shot from Bongani 'Drogba' Ndulula only for Arrows to level just three minutes later via a header from veteran nZambian Collins Mbesuma.
But Ajax dreams of a first title unravelled in the second half as a terrible blunder by 41-year-old goalkeeper Hans Vonk gifted Gert Schalkwyk an equaliser and Diyo Sibisi converted a penalty for Maritzburg ten minutes later. Sameehg Doutie equalised for Ajax three minutes after Chansa put Pirates ahead, but the third goal that would have given the Cape club top spot eluded them and Pirates claimed the Premiership title a third time.