Zambian Shonga stars as Orlando Pirates go second
Zambian Justin Shonga scored a brilliant goal Sunday as Orlando Pirates beat Chippa United 4-2 and became the leading challengers to South African Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.
The away victory for the Soweto Buccaneers after a thriller in eastern coastal city Port Elizabeth lifted them to 36 points, four less than the pacesetters with eight rounds remaining.
With Pirates holding on to a 3-2 lead deep into stoppage time, Shonga unleashed an angled shot from the edge of the box that flew across goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo and into the far corner.
Shonga also scored the second goal for the former African champions, pushing the ball into the net from close range after a lengthy goalmouth scramble.
Serb coach Milutin "Micho" Sredojevic hailed his team after Pirates completed home and away league victories over Chippa for the second successive season.
"Chippa brought the best out of us," said the 48-year-old former Uganda coach. "Not many clubs will come to Port Elizabeth and win.
"My team showed a winning character by going all out in the second half to collect maximum points. They played like lions.
"We looked at each other, eyeball to eyeball, during half-time and vowed to do better after a disappointing first half performance."
Ghanaian Bernard Morrison, from a penalty, and Thembinkosi Lorch were Pirates' other scorers while Mxolisi Macuphu and Katlego Mashego netted for Chippa.
The home side led, trailed and equalised before Pirates took a 3-2 lead just four minutes from time through Lorch and Shonga put the outcome beyond doubt.
Record seven-time Premiership champions Sundowns have 40 points, Pirates 36, Kaizer Chiefs 35 and Maritzburg United and Free State Stars 34 in a five-team title race.
Pirates and Chiefs clash next Saturday in a Soweto derby of such significance that a sell-out 90,000 crowd at Soccer City stadium in Soweto seems likely.
At the other end of the table, Ajax Cape Town suffered another blow, losing 1-0 away to fellow strugglers Golden Arrows in Indian Ocean port city Durban.
A Limbikani Mzava penalty gave Arrows three points that lifted them two places to 11th while Ajax remain second last, two points below Polokwane City, who have a game in hand.