Mamelodi Sundowns extend lead as South Africa honours Pele

Mamelodi Sundowns beat Orlando Pirates 2-0 and stretched their South African Premiership lead to seven points on Friday as South Africa remembered deceased Brazilian superstar Pele.

Pele died on Thursday in Sao Paulo aged 82 after battling colon cancer and kidney problems, and a moment of silence was observed at the five league matches as the 2022-2023 season resumed.

In the three matches broadcast live, an image of the Brazilian, with his dates of birth and death, was placed on the screen throughout the 90 minutes.

Regarded as the greatest footballer of all time, Pele never played in South Africa, but visited the republic in 2005 for an audience with political icon Nelson Mandela.

Mandela, who in 1994 became the first democratically elected president of South Africa after the fall of apartheid, was called a "hero" by the Brazilian.

As the richest league in Africa resumed after a break since late October due to the World Cup in Qatar and Christmas, Sundowns dominated fifth-placed Pirates in gloomy, rain-lashed Pretoria.

Mothobi Mvala, a defensive midfielder renowned for his robust style, was the unlikely scorer of the opening goal on 41 minutes with a header off a free-kick.

Cassius Mailula, a young recent addition to the starting line-up, doubled the lead on 63 minutes by side-footing a rebound past goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane.

It was the seventh straight Premiership victory by Sundowns, who have 31 points from 13 matches as they seek a record-extending sixth consecutive title.

Fellow Pretoria club SuperSport United rose above Richards Bay, who play on Saturday, to second after edging Marumo Gallants 1-0 through a goal from Zimbabwe full-back Onismor Bhasera.

A dour tussle was settled on 56 minutes when Bhasera powerfully nodded a free-kick past compatriot and Marumo goalkeeper Washington Arubi.

TS Galaxy forward Djakaridja Traore scored all three goals as his club won 2-1 at bottom team Maritzburg United,

The Ivorian conceded an own-goal, equalised before half-time and fired the 77th minute winner that spoilt the first match of Maritzburg coach Fadlu Davids in his second spell at the club.

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