Pirates back in title race

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

It was a good Saturday for Orlando Pirates when they renewed their championship ambitions while leaders Ajax Cape Town and SuperSport United fell by the wayside on the day.

The Buccaneers beat Lamontville Golden Arrows 1-0 at Johannesburg Stadium and the win catapulted them to third position on the log, four points off the pace.

Ajax lost 2-0 to Maritzburg United and Matsatsantsa were 4-1 to Free State Stars earlier in the day.

While Pirates have made a strong comeback in the title race, their coach, Rudi Krol, refuses to entertain talk about taking away Matsatsantsa's championship title this season.

The bespectacled Dutchman prefers to talk about their next match against cross-town rivals Bidvest Wits on Sunday.

But Krol could not hide his excitement at their recent wins.

"It's very crucial that we win matches at this phase of the league," said Krol.

"There is still a long way to go and I can't talk about the championship now. It was a tight match against Arrows but we kept on fighting and this is good attitude from the players who want to win matches. We will keep on fighting."

Arrows coach Manqoba Mngqithi praised his charges despite the setback.

"We started slowly since they forced us to defend but we upped the tempo in the second half. We conceded a stupid penalty and they punished us for that."

Arrows started the match steadily, ostensibly hoping to beat Pirates on the counter but should have known better.

Lebogang Mothibantwa threatened to break the deadlock for Pirates with a scorcher that he blasted over the bar from long range in the 12th minute.

But Arrows managed to keep the Buccaneers at bay until Jerome Damon somewhat harshly awarded them a penalty in the 51st minute after Kagiso Senamela was adjudged to have fouled Katlego Mashego inside the box.

Lucas Thwala converted the spot kick.

In a move seen as an attempt to balance the scales, Damon awarded Arrows a penalty after a foul by goalie Moeneeb Josephs on Richard Henyekane 12 minutes from time.

But Musa Bilankulu aimed for the skies from the resultant penalty and Pirates held on for a 1-0 victory.