/ 1 November 2007

Sundowns, Bucs made to fight for victory

It might not have been the kind of ”Hand of God” goal that Diego Maradona immortalised, but battling Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions Mamelodi Sundowns secured a much-needed 1-0 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic at the Free State Rugby Stadium on Wednesday night with what could be termed ”a gift from the gods”.

The solitary goal of the game was scored with a clinical penalty from the astute Ezrom Nyandoro after Celtic defender Didier Mbenje had performed what can best be described as a kamikaze act by involuntarily lifting his arm and handling the ball from an utterly innocuous cross.

It lifted the 2005 and 2006 champions from an embarrassing 13th position in the PSL log to a more respectable ninth place.

But, if truth be known, it was one of the few occasions in the match that the Brazilians looked like scoring and coach Gordon Igesund’s enthusiasm after the game may have stemmed more from relief than anything else.

Celtic, who until 10 days ago were heading the PSL championship race, now slip a costly three points behind Ajax Cape Town.

Meanwhile, Orlando Pirates held off a gutsy Black Leopards for their third PSL victory of the season with a hard-fought 3-2 win at the Thohoyandou Stadium on Wednesday night.

South African under-20 international striker Excellent Walaza scored either side of half-time to set Pirates up for victory, but Leopards’ Walter Ramulondi and Fisher Kondowe brought Leopards back into the game as the Bucs went to sleep after Walaza’s second strike.

The game started at a frenetic pace as both sides looked eagerly for an early goal. In the sixth minute, Tlou Segolela waltzed past two defenders and spotted Walaza free in the big box. He blasted the ball home from Segolela’s pass.

Teko Modise, who had a relatively quiet evening, came alive for Bucs as time ran out for Leopards, collecting the ball, making simple passes and forcing his teammates to play around him.

Modise set-up Bennet Chenene for the winner as he threaded the ball between an unwary Leopards defence. Chenene rifled home from close range and Pirates sealed their third win of the season.

In other PSL games played on Wednesday, Supersport United and Platinum Stars played to a 1-1 draw while Santos beat Golden Arrows 1-0. — Sapa