Cape Town - Orlando Pirates became the third leaders of the Absa
Premiership within seven days despite only drawing 1-1 at home to
mid-table Bloemfontein Celtic in Soweto Tuesday.
Mamelodi Sundowns surrendered top spot after losing 2-1 away to
third-place Cape Town City with the new signing Chris David snatching
the winning goal two minutes from time.
Bidvest Wits, who ceded first place to Sundowns last week, were not
in action Tuesday and dropped to fourth in the tightest South African
title race for many seasons.
Pirates and defending champions Sundowns have 40 points with the Buccaneers occupying first place by the slenderest of goal
differences, plus 12 to plus 11.
Cape Town City have 39 points, 2017 champions Wits 38 and SuperSport
United 35 in a five-club race for the R10 million main prize.
Pirates struggled to find a way past the massed defence of Celtic and
fell behind on 37 minutes when they failed to clear a corner and Tshepo
Rikhotso poked the ball into the net.
It took the home side a further 43 minutes of toil before they
equalised with patient passing leading to a Luvuyo Memela shot that
eluded Cameroonian goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb.
"No one can accuse us of holding back in the second half," said Serbia-born Pirates coach Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic.
"There were times when we had two defenders, one defensive
midfielder, and the rest of the team spent most of their times in the
Celtic half trying to score.
"It was a match we expected to win and, with cooler heads in the final third of the pitch, we could have achieved that goal.
"Now we must forget about the Premiership and concentrate on the CAF
Champions League with a must-win home fixture against Platinum of
Zimbabwe this Friday."
Cape Town City once again improved dramatically in the second half of a
match to overcome Sundowns, who are seeking a fourth title in six
A sublime pass from Argentine Emiliano Tade set up Lebohang Maboe to
give Sundowns a 14th-minute lead with his seventh Absa Premiership goal of
City equalised seven minutes into the second half when a goalmouth
deflection fell to Kermit Erasmus, who hammered the ball past Zambian
goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Amsterdam-born David came off the bench to fulfil a pre-match promise
to coach Benni McCarthy that he would score direct from a free-kick.
"Individually, Sundowns might have had the edge, but we worked harder
as a team and the spirit of my players is incredible," said former
South Africa star McCarthy.
Like Pirates, Sundowns have a key CAF Champions League group match this weekend, hosting Lobi Stars from Nigeria near Pretoria.