Pirates, Chiefs boost chances of qualifying for Africa

Tapelo Xoki of Orlando Pirates challenges Zakhele Lepasa of Supersport United during the DStv Premiership 2022/23 match at the Orlando Stadium. Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs both won on Saturday to move within two points of second-placed SuperSport United as the race to finish South African Premiership runners-up intensified.

A Tapelo Xoki penalty on 79 minutes gave Pirates a 1-0 victory over SuperSport in Soweto while Chiefs also relied on a spot-kick, converted by Yusuf Maart, to win 3-2 at Maritzburg United.

Chiefs made a flying start in Pietermaritzburg with Keagan Dolly and Christian Saile scoring within 10 minutes.

But second-from-bottom Maritzburg levelled before half-time thanks to goals from Rafiq de Goede and Amadou Soukouna.

A softly awarded and hotly disputed penalty enabled Maart to net the 76th-minute winner before a sell-out 15,000 crowd.

The focus in the richest national league in Africa has switched to who comes second as Mamelodi Sundowns need only two points from seven matches to seal a sixth straight title.

But the race to finish runners-up is hotting up with SuperSport on 39 points and Pirates and Chiefs on 37.

Coming second secures qualification for the CAF Champions League and the chance to pocket at least $550,000 if a club survives one or two qualifying rounds and books a group place.

Pirates won the competition, then called the African Cup of Champions Clubs, in 1995 and Chiefs were runners-up in 2021. SuperSport have reached the group stage once.  

SuperSport are surprise occupants of second place after selling their best players -- goalkeeper Ronwen Williams and midfielder Teboho Mokoena -- to Pretoria neighbours Sundowns.

They have also been barred from using their ground due to a sub-standard pitch and must find a new venue for three remaining home fixtures, including a potentially key clash with Chiefs.

Nigerians scored both goals in another match with Chibuike Ohizu putting Sekhukhune United ahead and Eliosa Ighodaro equalising three minutes later for Chippa United in a 1-1 draw.


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