23.12.2021 22:01 h

Peprah peps up Orlando Pirates with four goals

Ghanaian Kwame Peprah raised his goal tally to four from two matches for Orlando Pirates by bagging a brace in a 2-1 South African Premiership victory over AmaZulu on Thursday.

The 21-year-old also scored twice three days ago when the Soweto Buccaneers came from behind to triumph 2-1 over Marumo Gallants.

Peprah joined Pirates from King Faisal in his homeland four months ago and struggled to find the net before ending his barren spell against Marumo.

"I have improved little by little while adapting to South African football and the lack of goals never discouraged me," he said after the victory over AmaZulu.

"My gratitude to everyone at Pirates, especially the players and coaches, for keeping faith in me. I hope my four goals this week is just the beginning."

Peprah struck after 37 and 48 minutes after former Pirate Luvuyo Memela had given AmaZulu a fourth-minute lead behind closed doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Winning twice at home within four days lifted Pirates to second in the standings, 14 points behind runaway leaders Mamelodi Sundowns as the season enters its final third.

Sundowns crushed Pirates 4-1 last weekend, but have struggled since, losing 1-0 away to AmaZulu on Monday and drawing 1-1 at home against bottom-half Gallants on Thursday.

Chasing a record-extending fifth straight title, Sundowns have 44 points with 11 matches to play, Pirates 30, Stellenbosch 29, Kaizer Chiefs 28, AmaZulu 27 and SuperSport United and Royal AM 26.

Barring an unexpected collapse when the league resumes in February after the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, Sundowns will cruise to a 12th Premiership title.

But with only four points separating Pirates from seventh-placed Royal, the battle to finish runners-up could go down to the wire.

Apart from pocketing 7.5 million rand ($480,000/425,000 euro), the club finishing second also secures a place in the 2022-2023 CAF Champions League, which offers rich pickings from the group stage.

After crushing Pirates, Sundowns have gone off the boil with the away defeat by AmaZulu in Durban their first this season.

Against Marumo, they fell behind on 32 minutes in Pretoria when Brazilian Ricardo Nascimento handled and Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo slammed the penalty into the corner of the net.

Sundowns levelled within three minutes as Lesedi Kapinga pounced on a loose ball, beat a defender and fired past goalkeeper King Ndlovu, who was preferred to usual first choice, Zimbabwean Washington Arubi.

Sundowns co-coach Rulani Mokwena looked on the bright side later, saying "we have played about 60 matches at home and in Africa this year and lost only three, which is an incredible achievement".