Shock Maritzburg win knocks Orlando Pirates off the top

·2-min read

French forward Amadou Soukouna converted a penalty to give Maritzburg United a shock 1-0 South African Premiership win on Sunday over Orlando Pirates, who dropped from first to third.

The controversial winner came on 80 minutes with Ghana goalkeeper Richard Ofori getting both hands to the spot-kick without stopping it entering the net.

Pirates were furious after the penalty was awarded, and replays seemed to justify the anger of Nigeria defender Olisa Ndah, who was harshly judged to have pushed Siboniso Conco.

It was only the second win in seven league matches for Maritzburg this season under new coach and former Malawi star John Maduka, and their first victory over Pirates since 2016.

Maximum points in front of a capacity 12,000 crowd in the eastern city of Pietermaritzburg lifted United three places to seventh.

Pirates are among the three most successful and popular clubs in South Africa, but have not won the Premiership since 2012, when former Netherlands defender Ruud Krol was the coach.

Spaniard Jose Riveiro is the latest man in charge of the Soweto Buccaneers and a major concern for the 46-year-old must be scoring only four goals in seven league outings.

Giant Cameroonian Bienvenu Eva Nga was signed from fellow Premiership outfit Chippa United during the close season, but has netted just once and made little impact against Maritzburg.

With Pirates losing, Durban club Royal AM became the new leaders of the richest national league in Africa with a 15 million rand ($865,000/870,000 euros) first prize.

Mfundo Thikazi scored in each half to give Royal, in only their second top-flight season, a 2-1 win over struggling Sekhukhune United in northern city Polokwane.

Second-last Sekhukhune have taken only one point from their last four matches under Zimbabwean coach Kaitano Tembo, who joined during the close season.

Royal have 13 points, fellow Durban club AmaZulu and Pirates 11 and defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns and promoted Richards Bay.

Former African champions Sundowns suffered only three losses in 30 matches last season when winning a fifth straight title.

But the Pretoria club fell 2-1 to mid-table SuperSport United at a Pretoria stadium they share to sustain a second defeat of this campaign in just six matches.

Goals from Thapelo Maseko and 2021 Premiership Golden Boot winner Bradley Grobler gave United a two-goal half-time advantage they held until Ethiopian Abubeker Nassir netted in added time.

dl/jc