/ 21 February 2011

Pirates, Chiefs held ahead of Soweto derby

Leaders Orlando Pirates and second-placed Kaizer Chiefs had to come from behind to draw on Sunday six days before they clash in a Soweto derby that could decide who wins the South African title.

Happy Jali equalised three minutes into stoppage time as wasteful Pirates snatched a lucky 1-1 home draw againt modest AmaZulu at a sparsely populated Orlando Stadium.

Leading Premiership scorer Knowledge Musona and Sthembiso Ngcobo levelled for Chiefs in a 2-2 Cape Town thriller with Santos, who led in each half via Vuyisile Wana and Jurie Basie goals.

Lowly Moroka Swallows shared the same experience as Santos — leading twice before having to settle for a 2-2 draw away to Lamontville Golden Arrows in Indian Ocean city Durban.

Pirates have 45 points, Chiefs and Ajax Cape Town 43 each and long-time leaders Mamelodi Sundowns 38 nine rounds from the end of the richest African national football championship with $1,4 million going to the winners.

Ajax were the sole weekend victors among the title challengers, defeating Vasco da Gama 2-1 in a Cape derby after Sundowns suffered a shock 2-1 away loss to Free State Stars in northern city Polokwane.

Jali salvaged a point for Pirates with a low shot from inside the box following an untidy scramble six minutes after substitute Lehlohonolo Majoro stunned the predominantly Pirates-supporting crowd.

He claimed his eighth league goal this season by controlling a cross and unleashing a shot that flew wide of goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa and landed in the corner of the net.

Only lost twice
Meyiwa was one of several reserves in action for the Buccaneers as injuries and suspensions depleted the Soweto side, who have lost only twice in 21 league outings under coach and 1970s Dutch star Ruud Krol.

Wana timed his run on to a long pass perfectly and rounded goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune before tapping the ball over the line to give Santos a 23rd-minute lead at a packed Athlone Stadium.

Zimbabwean Musona raised his goal tally to 11 by sending Tshepo Motsoeneng the wrong way from a late first-half spot kick only for Basie to put the Cape team ahead again soon after half-time.

Ngcobo restored parity 15 minutes from full-time and set up a tense climax with Musona squandering a stoppage-time chance when he blazed a Siphiwe Tshabalala cross over from in front of the goal.

Koketso Mmotong gave Swallows the perfect start with a first-minute goal and veteran World Cup striker Siyabonga Nomvete restored the lead midway through the second half after Philani Shange equalised.

But Swallows, a Soweto club once among the giants of South African football, could not retain their advantage at Chatsworth Stadium and Vusumuzi Vilakazi rescued a point for mid-table Arrows.

Bottom club Mpumalanga Black Aces have just eight points and appeared doomed to automatic relegation while Swallows occupy second last place, a slot they must vacate to dodge play-offs against three lower-league promotion hopefuls. — AFP