Sport

SOCCER

Pirates and SuperSport the winners in Premiership Easter egg hunt; Sundowns and Chiefs frustrated

Pirates and SuperSport the winners in Premiership Easter egg hunt; Sundowns and Chiefs frustrated
Thabo Makhele of Chippa United and Thembinkosi Lorch of Orlando Pirates during the DStv Premiership match between Chippa United and Orlando Pirates at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on 8 April 2023 in Gqeberha, South Africa. (Photo: Richard Huggard / Gallo Images)

During the Easter weekend DStv Premiership action, Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United were the biggest beneficiaries – while some teams threatened by relegation earned precious points.

In the close-fought race for second spot in the DStv Premiership, it was Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United that emerged with satisfied smirks on their faces during the Easter weekend DStv Premiership points hunt.

The Buccaneers and Matsatsantsa each collected three points to move to 43 apiece. Kaizer Chiefs – who are also in the running for second – dropped precious points with a one-all draw against season strugglers Marumo Gallants. Amakhosi now trail the two frontrunners by two points.

Frontrunners

Pirates maintained their slim advantage over SuperSport (on goal difference) in the race for second with a 2-0 win over relegation-threatened Chippa United in Gqeberha. Goals from Kabelo Dlamini and fan favourite Thembinkosi Lorch did the job for the Sea Robbers.

The Buccaneers made it four consecutive league wins on the trot as they also clung on to their spot in second with the victory.

The team that grabs second spot will participate in next season’s Caf Champions League campaign. Hence, the contenders are desperate to claim silver – even after being emphatically beaten to gold by Mamelodi Sundowns.

Matsatsantsa kept themselves in contention for the consolatory runner-up place by beating TS Galaxy 2-0 on Good Friday. Midfielder Siphesihle Ndlovu and veteran striker Bradley Grobler were on target for Gavin Hunt’s men.

The defeat sees TS Galaxy fall out of the top eight – into 10th spot, as teams such as Royal AM and Golden Arrows – with whom Galaxy is fighting for MTN8 qualification – claimed maximum points in their clashes with Stellenbosch and Richards Bay, respectively.

SuperSport United players celebrate during the DStv Premiership match between SuperSport United and TS Galaxy at TUT Stadium on 7 April 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Thamsanqa Gabuza of SuperSport United during the DStv Premiership match between SuperSport United and TS Galaxy at TUT Stadium on 7 April 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

Relegation battle

Relegation candidates Gallants earned an important point against the third and final contender aiming to finish second – Chiefs.

For the Limpopo side the draw felt like a victory as it took them away from the foot of the table – with Maritzburg United replacing Gallants at the bottom following their 1-0 loss to Sekhukhune United.

Maritzburg and Gallants are level on 24 points, but separated by goal difference.

As for Amakhosi, the draw is yet another disruption just as the Soweto side was gathering momentum. Chiefs went into the Gallants game on the back of four league wins on the spin.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Arthur Zwane during the DStv Premiership match between Kaizer Chiefs and Marumo Gallants FC at FNB Stadium on 8 April 2023 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images)

They failed to make it five, with the team’s inconsistency – which coach Arthur Zwane had highlighted as a key issue before the game – creeping in once more.  

“That has been [something] we have tried to work on. As I’ve been saying, whenever we get it right (for two or three games) we have challenges here and there that will knock us back a little bit,” said Zwane.

“Then we have to start afresh again in terms of the results, because that comes with the confidence for the players to express themselves,” he added.

“What has been visible has been the offensive part – though we could have done better in terms of converting our chances. As a result, if you don’t score goals, you end up conceding. Those are the things that might have killed our momentum.”

There was also an important point earned by Swallows after they showed guile and discipline to hold recently crowned 2022/2023 South African champions Sundowns to a scoreless draw.

Masandawana made three changes for the trip to the Dube Birds – with Sphelele Mkhulise, Sipho Mbule and Haashim Domingo roped into the starting lineup.

However, the star-studded Sundowns side could not find the back of the net as Swallows defended their nest valiantly to deny the Tshwane giants a 2oth win from 25 matches played this season. As a result, the Birds are now four points clear of Maritzburg – who anchor the table.

Coach of the Brazilians Rulani Mokwena hinted that his revamped line-up might have been the cause of the dropped points.

“We have to play these games and try to make sure the squad is close to each other. So, I’m very proud of the players [after a] gallant effort from the opposition,” Mokwena said as quoted by iDiski Times.

The rotation is important for Sundowns’ overall ambitions this season. Which include retaining the Nedbank Cup and claiming their second Champions League crown in history. DM

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