TSHWANE — Senegalese Mame Niang scored twice as SuperSport United beat 10-man Free State Stars 4-1 in the South Africa Absa Premiership football league on Saturday evening.
The 1,94-metre striker also set up a volleyed goal by Sameegh Doutie as the three-time champions began the season impressively under new coach Cavin Johnson.
On an opening weekend of tight tussles, SuperSport bucked the trend at chilly Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria township Atteridgeville. A flying elbow led to a second yellow card for Nigerian defender Soriola Gege on 44 minutes, and Niang converted the resulting penalty as Ghanaian goalkeeper Daniel Agyei dived the wrong way.
The spot kick cancelled Stars’ early lead courtesy of a blunder by goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, who allowed a curling Mongezi Bobe cross slip between his hands.
Bennett Chenene, one of many new SuperSport signings on show, gave his team an early second half lead and Doutie settled the outcome with five minutes left. Deep in stoppage time, Dakar-born Niang completed the rout by outjumping slow-reacting Agyei and nodding the ball into an unguarded net.
“It was nice to win, but there is a lot of room for improvement,” was the verdict of Johnson, who took unfashionable Platinum Stars to second place last season. “My players need to pace themselves better, understand each other more, and strive to always be the boss when playing at home,” he stressed.
Moroka Swallows left it late in Soweto to defeat visiting Pretoria University 1-0 with midfielder Lerato Chabangu scoring in the final minute. His goal is an early candidate for best of the season as a looping volley off a high pass drifted over Zimbabwean goalkeeper Washington Arubi and into the far corner.
New Ghanaian striker Yakubu Mohammed silenced a critic by converting a mid-second half free-kick to earn Maritzburg United a 1-0 home win over promoted Polokwane City. Orlando Pirates coach Roger de Sa kicked Mohammed out of recent trials after he retired exhausted 30 minutes into the first session with the former African champions.
South Africa Cup of Nations-winning captain Neil Tovey offered a kinder assessment on TV of the match-winner: “He could prove one of the best buys of the season.”
Malawian Peter Wadabwa was another foreigner to score on debut, giving Golden Arrows the lead in a 1-1 draw against Ajax Cape Town in Durban. Ajax levelled 20 minutes from time when Lebogang Manyama, who impressed for South Africa in a regional tournament during July, ran through and slid the ball under Siya Mngoma.