Home Sport Pride of place goes to Pirates after Downs and Chiefs suffer heartbreak

Pride of place goes to Pirates after Downs and Chiefs suffer heartbreak

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Mamelodi Sundowns’ Champions League hopes evaporated into the night air at the FNB Stadium on Saturday, when they were dumped out of the continental competition by the visiting Angolans Petro de Luanda.

Kwane Peprah of Orlando Pirates celebrates a goal with teammates during the Caf Confederation Cup quarter-final match against Simba at Orlando Stadium, Johannesburg on Sunday. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

THIS past weekend provided a flurry of DSTV Premiership action, and here sports writer Herman Gibbs takes a look at the five major moments.

1

Mamelodi Sundowns’ Champions League hopes evaporated into the night air at the FNB Stadium on Saturday, when they were dumped out of the continental competition by the visiting Angolans Petro de Luanda, who secured a 3-2 winning aggregate to advance to the semi-finals.

Sundowns tasted defeat for the first time in this season’s Champions League when they lost 2-1 to Petro last week. On Saturday, their second leg clash ended in a 1-1 stalemate, which gave Petro the green light into the semi-final round.

The outcome was painful for Sundowns, judging by coach Manqoba Mngqithi’s words: “It hurts too much. I don’t want to lie.”

2

There was no consolation for Kaizer Chiefs fans on Saturday after their wish to sack coach Stuart Baxter was granted. The post-Baxter era started with a defeat in Stellenbosch, but it seemed the Chiefs fans at the Winelands venue were in high spirits right until the final whistle.

Their demeanour suggested that they were happy with the performance even though it ended in defeat. It was heartening to see some fresh faces in the line-up, especially those who have been ignored by Baxter for the past few days. There were encouraging signs from the untried combination, and Chiefs will do well to build on this in their next outing.

3

Baroka have almost certainly been consigned to automatic relegation after they suffered defeat at the hands of Swallows on Sunday. The outcome leaves Baroka (on 18 points) rock-bottom in 16th place and five points adrift of the 15th-placed team TS Galaxy on 23 points. In 14th place is Swallows, also on 23 points but they have a better goal difference.

The 14th-placed team is Maritzburg United on 24 points. All four teams have four matches remaining this season. Of the four teams, Swallows have fared best with four points in the last five games. Who will finish in 15th place when the season ends, remains a lottery.

4

The KZN derby between AmaZulu and Royal AM was a rousing affair, and the excellent spectator turn-out made for a festival atmosphere. However, the eventual goalless stalemate was hard on Royal AM. They could have clinched a win had referee Tshidiso Maruphing ruled in their favour for at least one of two genuine penalty appeals.

AmaZulu bravely soldiered on with desperate defence to ride their luck. By restricting Royal AM to a draw, Mamelodi Sundowns will only need a draw in their next game to secure the Premiership title. There are signs that the game is alive and kicking in KZN. Royal AM and AmaZulu are well-placed to secure top-8 berths.

5

After Sundowns’ Champions League demise, Orlando Pirates will fly the flag for Mzansi in Africa. Pirates sensationally emerged victorious on aggregate after Sunday’s Caf Confed Cup quarter-final second leg clash in Soweto.

Pirates’ triumph also marked a victory for fair play after the rank bad gamesmanship by Tanzanian cub Simba FC.

Pirates co-coach Mandla Ncikazi was so incensed with the treatment in Tanzania, that he was moved to say that “Pirates were treated like animals” on the away leg. It was a shocking situation that the VAR was not fully operational at times in both first and second legs. Caf must also look into the poor handling by match officials in the second leg.

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