12.08.2015 13:29 h

Highly-rated Pirates lose league opener

Orlando Pirates lost 1-0 to SuperSport United Wednesday in the South African Premiership opening round just days after being called one of the best three African football clubs.

Recent New Zealand recruit Michael Boxall scored the only goal after 22 minutes of a game that took 17 hours to complete after floodlight failure at a Polokwane stadium late Tuesday.

Play was halted after 63 minutes and resumed Wednesday lunchtime in the northern city at the same ground, one of 12 that hosted 2010 World Cup matches.

Towering right-back Boxall timed his run perfectly off a David Mathebula free-kick to stroke the ball past goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo from close range.

The fatigue of playing four matches in 11 days was evident as often lethargic Pirates looked like equalising only in the closing stages of the match.

Defeat came four days after Paulo Duarte, the Portuguese coach of Tunisian club CS Sfaxien, said the Buccaneers belonged among the African elite.

"They are among the top three clubs in Africa with (Egyptians) Al Ahly and Zamalek," he said after a CAF Confederation Cup loss to Pirates in Soweto last Saturday.

Boxall was one of seven foreigners who featured in the match, illustrating the multi-national composition of the richest African national football league with a $780,000 (700,000 euros) first prize.

The others included fellow New Zealander Jeremy Brockie, Australian Isaka Cernak, Equatoguinean Felipe Ovono, Senegalese Issa Sarr, Togolese Dove Wome and Zimbabwean Tendai Ndoro.

A keenly contested opening Premiership round produced five one-goal victories and three goalless draws with minnows Polokwane City topping the table on goals scored.