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Chaos as Orlando Pirates sink to 80-year low

Johannesburg (AFP) – Orlando Pirates supporters staged a pitch invasion, fought rival fans and damaged TV cables Saturday as the 80-year-old club suffered a record defeat.

Reigning African champions Mamelodi Sundowns humiliated former African champions Pirates 6-0 in a South African Premiership match at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria.

When Percy Tau completed the rout on 81 minutes with his second goal, spectators wearing Pirates’ colours swarmed on to the pitch and fought with rival supporters.

Several spectators were injured and taken to hospital by ambulance before police restored order in one of the high-profile fixtures in the South African football calendar.

Pirates supporters also interfered with TV cables, forcing the pan-African SuperSport channel to temporarily halt live coverage of the game.

The pitch invasion forced play to be suspended for one hour, by which time order had been restored and most Pirates supporters had left the ground.

It was the second time this season Soweto-based Pirates have conceded six goals, losing 6-1 to another Pretoria club, SuperSport United, last November.

Turkish coach Muhsin Ertugral resigned after that debacle and was replaced on a caretaker basis by long-time club employee Augusto Palacios.  

Peruvian Palacios did not return to the touchline when the match resumed, staying in the changing room while the remaining eight minutes were played.

“He is not feeling well,” said assistant coach Benson Mhlongo. “He thinks he disappointed the team. 

“But it is all of us that disappointed the supporters. I hope that moving forward we can do better.”

Considered potential champions when the season started last August after many close-season signings, Pirates lie an embarrassing 10th in the standings, 12 points behind leaders Cape Town City.

Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza said this week that he had short-listed six unnamed coaches — two local and four foreign — to succeed Ertugral.

While City beat Ajax 2-0 in a Cape Town derby, title-holders Sundowns are looking increasingly menacing, six points behind the pacesetters with six games in hand.

Pirates hit the post in the second minute before goals from Themba Zwane and Percy Tau gave Sundowns a 2-0 half-time advantage.  

That lead stretched continuously during the second half as Brazilian Ricardo Nascimento converted a penalty, Thapelo Morena bagged a brace and Tau scored his second goal.

Kaizer Chiefs rose to second, one point behind Cape Town, thanks to a 2-1 victory at Maritzburg United courtesy of a Siphiwe Tshabalala goal on 80 minutes.

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