Wits regain lead in South Africa as Sundowns held and Pirates sunk
Johannesburg (AFP) – Bidvest Wits regained first place in the South African Premiership Wednesday, while Mamelodi Sundowns conceded a late equaliser and Orlando Pirates were trounced in other matches.
Namibian Deon Hotto scored on the stroke of half-time to give Wits a 1-0 win at Polokwane City and confirm the belief of coach Gavin Hunt that his side are better away from home.
Meshack Maphangule snatched a last-minute leveller for Chippa United in a 1-1 draw at home to defending champions Sundowns, who had taken a first half lead through Lebohang Maboe.
Bradley Grobler netted in each half for SuperSport United as they thumped Pirates 3-0 with Zambian Lungu Ghampani the other scorer.
Wits lead Kaizer Chiefs and Polokwane on goal difference with each club having six points and Sundowns, Baroka and Cape Town City are two points behind.
Johannesburg-based Wits kicked off the season this month with a three-goal win at AmaZulu, then fell at home to Baroka, leaving Hunt to declare that “my team play better away”.
The Hotto goal inflicted a first loss on Polokwane, who were the surprise side last season as they finished fifth with a star-less squad coached by Slovak Jozef Vukusic.
The east European mysteriously quit during the close season, saying only that “the decision was reached after consulting my family”.
– Setback –
Serb Zlatko Krmpotic, who has worked at clubs in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Botswana and Rwanda, took over and plotted two victories before the Wits setback.
In Port Elizabeth, slick short passes created the chance for Maboe to fire past Cameroon-born Chippa goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb after 35 minutes.
But Sundowns’ hopes of maintaining a 100 percent record were dashed in the last minute when Motjeka Madisha deflected a goal-bound Maphangule shot into the corner of the net after a corner.
Meanwhile, Pretoria-based SuperSport moved a home fixture against Pirates 315 kilometres (196 miles) east to Nelspruit for financial gain without it affecting their performance.
SuperSport are among several Premiership sides who ‘sell’ home fixtures and temporary host cities make an overall profit because an influx of spectators increases economic activity.
Grobler punished a crazy headed back pass to put SuperSport ahead on 35 minutes and he struck again nine minutes into the second half with a snap shot.
Having bagged a brace, the forward turned provided for the third goal with a superb long pass that sent Ghampani racing forward before firing past goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands.