Absa Premiership

Mhlongo: We're coming out of a bad spell

Brighton Mhlongo (Gallo Images)
Brighton Mhlongo (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Brighton Mhlongo made an impressive return as Orlando Pirates continued their PSL revival by beating the University of Pretoria 2-0 on Wednesday.

Captain Thabo Matlaba put the Buccaneers ahead in the 47th minute at Orlando Stadium in Soweto and Sifiso Myeni assured victory for the hosts with a goal in the 85th minute.

Recalled after a six-month injury lay-off, Mhlongo made a string of fine first-half saves as second-from-bottom Amatuks created more scoring chances.

The 25-year-old was voted man of the match a day after his birthday and praised his 'family' for helping regain the starting line-up place ahead of Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Felipe Ovono.

"By 'family' I mean by own, and all those who helped me regain full fitness," said the shot-stopper who succeeded murdered Senzo Meyiwa in late 2014.

South African and Pirates captain Meyiwa was shot dead at the home of a friend south of Johannesburg in a crime yet to be solved.

"I dedicate this victory to my support team," added Mhlongo. "It was a collective effort and we are coming out of a bad spell, which every team suffers."

Pirates, runners-up to Etoile Sahel of Tunisia in the 2015 CAF Confederation Cup, made a disastrous start to the Premiership season, winning just one of seven games.

But the triumph over Pretoria was the third in five matches and pleased coach Eric Tinkler, the target of a long-running social media campaign demanding his dismissal.

"The result was what mattered - not how we played," stressed the former national team midfielder. "We have got to maintain the momentum."

Victory lifted the Buccaneers to 10th place after 13 rounds - 14 points adrift of leaders Bidvest Wits with a game in hand.

Amatuks, who have scored just six goals in 13 outings, remain perilously placed just two points above bottom club Maritzburg United.

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