Johannesburg – Veteran Orlando Pirates captain Happy Jele gifted Royal AM a goal and later retired injured as a bruising South African Premiership clash was drawn 1-1 in Soweto on Thursday.
Jele, who has been with the Soweto Buccaneers since 2006 and recently celebrated a 400th appearance for the former African champions, left the stadium on crutches having hurt his right leg in the second half.
Pirates squandered several good scoring chances in an empty stadium, due to coronavirus restrictions, and the result extended a winless league run to four matches.
A mix-up between centre-back Jele and goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane allowed leading Premiership scorer Victor Letsoalo to poke the ball across the goalmouth for Levy Mashiane to score on 32 minutes.
After Pirates failed to score several times from inside the box, Linda Mntambo equalised in the final minute of the opening half from close to the touchline.
Royal surrendered possession cheaply and Mntambo steered a speculative shot over Cameroonian goalkeeper Patrick Nyame into the far corner of the net.
There were far more yellow cards than clearcut scoring chances in the second half and 43 fouls during the match spoilt it for thousands of TV viewers.
Pirates have made a disappointing start to the season with only two league wins in eight outings and lie seventh, eight points behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns having played one match more.
Then a second division side, Royal bought the franchise of Bloemfontein Celtic in August, less than a week before the season began, and are fourth behind Sundowns, Stellenbosch and SuperSport United.
Stellenbosch, who are owned by South African billionaire Johann Rupert, have been a revelation this term after finishing one place above the relegation zone last season.
On Wednesday, they edged visiting Marumo Gallants 1-0 thanks to a 27th-minute goal from Ashley du Preez, his second of the campaign.
When a low shot beat Gallants’ Zimbabwe goalkeeper Washington Arubi and rebounded off the post, Du Preez reacted quickest to score in the Cape winelands town of Stellenbosch.
AmaZulu pleaded tiredness after a successful but difficult CAF Champions League visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo last weekend as they slumped 2-0 away to promoted Sekhukhune United in Johannesburg.
Having ousted five-time champions TP Mazembe in the elite African competition, AmaZulu were outplayed by livelier Sekhukhune, whose scorers were Zimbabwean Willard Katsande and Nigerian Chibuike Ohizu.
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