JOHANNESBURG – Tshegofatso Mabasa scored a goal that should have been ruled offside to give Orlando Pirates a 1-0 win at Highlands Park Tuesday in the South African Premiership.The match-winning forward was lucky to still be on the field in Tembisa near Johannesburg having earlier escaped with a yellow card for a vicious two-footed tackle.Victory through the 80th-minute goal lifted Pirates two places to eighth after nine rounds, 10 points behind leaders and arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs, while Highlands stayed fourth.“Mabasa was at least three metres offside when he received possession,” fumed losing coach Owen da Gama, a former forward with Irish club Derry City. “It is painful to lose this way.”Replays of the goal confirmed that Da Gama was correct, with the match officials failing to notice that Mabasa was in a glaringly offside position when collecting a pass.
Pirates caretaker coach Rhulani Mokwena gave a terse “no comment” when asked for his opinion of the goal that settled a dour duel watched by a sell-out 10,000 crowd.It was the fifth goal of the league campaign for Mabasa, a close-season buy from Bloemfontein Celtic, as he closed the gap behind six-goal chart-topper Peter Shalulile of Highlands.De Gama was also furious about the way Mabasa tackled Lindokhule Mbatha, who failed to fully respond to spray and injection and had to be replaced during the second half.“You can end the career of a footballer with a tackle like that,” said De Gama as his club suffered a second solitary-goal Premiership loss in three outings.Mokwena, previously an assistant coach who has been in charge since Serb Milutin Sredojevic quit early in the season to join Egyptian giants Zamalek, refused to comment on the tackle.“We have played better,” he admitted, “but that does not concern me. We came here desperate to collect three points and got them so congratulations to all my players.“It is not easy to leave Makhulong Stadium with maximum points and we had to dig deep for this morale-boosting victory.”