Orlando Pirates drop vital points in South African title race

Johannesburg (AFP) –


Orlando Pirates dropped two potentially crucial points when they drew 2-2 at Cape Town City Saturday in the penultimate round of the South African Premiership.

The point secured by the league leaders lifted them to 54 for the season, but second-place Mamelodi Sundowns have 53 and a match in hand.

Record eight-time champions Sundowns will successfully defend the title if they defeat Golden Arrows at home this Tuesday and Free State Stars away next Saturday.

Bidvest Wits, who were formed in 1921 but became champions for the first time only two seasons ago, have a mathematical chance of topping the final table on goal difference.

But to have a chance, the Johannesburg club must win at Arrows next Saturday, hope Pirates lose at home to Polokwane City, and that Sundowns take only one point from their two games.

Pirates made the worst possible start in Cape Town, falling behind to a Zukile Kewuti goal with less than a minute played.

But the club seeking a first league title since 2012 recovered to level through Thembinkosi Lorch on 15 minutes and took the lead soon after half-time thanks to Luvuyo Memela.

Cape Town, needing maximum points to retain a remote chance of snatching the title, levelled six minutes from time via Craig Martin and also came close to winning.

- Maritzburg remain bottom -

At the other end of the table, AmaZulu assured their survival, leaving five clubs in a battle to avoid finishing last and being relegated or second last and going into play-offs.

Maritzburg United remain bottom despite a 3-1 home win over SuperSport United with substitute Judas Moseamedi bagging a brace in Pietermaritzburg.

United have 26 points and Black Leopards, Free State Stars and Chippa United are just one point above them.

Premiership leading scorer Mwape Musonda from Zambia raised his season goal tally to 16 by converting a penalty as Leopards drew 1-1 away to AmaZulu in Durban.

Free State led Kaizer Chiefs, but had to settle for a 1-1 draw in Mbombela as Daniel Cardoso equalised from a second-half penalty.

Chippa shrugged off poor recent results to shock hosts Polokwane 3-1 in northern South Africa with Donashano Malama and Repo Malepe scoring either side of half-time to win the game.

Baroka have two points more than Maritzburg, who they host next Saturday, but remain in the relegation quagmire after a 3-1 loss at Wits.

Wits overcame the red-carding of goalkeeper Ricardo Goss in the final minute of the first half to clinch the three points when Robyn Johannes scored from a second half penalty.

In the only fixture not involving title or relegation contenders, Highlands Park edged Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 near Johannesburg through a goal from Zimbabwean Tendai Ndoro.