Rayners hits five to boost Stellenbosch’s CAF hopes

Iqraam Rayners of Stellenbosch FC challenged by Rodney Maphangule of Polokwane City during the DStv Premiership 2023/24 game between Stellenbosch FC and Polokwane City at Danie Craven Stadium on 27 April 2024. BackpagePix

Stellenbosch forward Iqraam Rayners scored five goals in the race between his club and Orlando Pirates to finish South African Premiership runners-up and book a CAF Champions League place.

Pirates triumphed 4-0 at Royal AM on Sunday, a day after Rayners’ record-equalling feat gave hosts Stellenbosch a 5-0 victory over Polokwane City.

The forward is the second footballer to score five times in a Premiership — a feat first achieved by Zambian James Chamanga for Moroka Swallows in 2007.

Defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns are poised to seal a seventh straight Premiership title as they need a maximum six points from eight matches to succeed again.

Second-placed Stellenbosch, 10 points behind Sundowns having played three matches more, lead Pirates by three points with each club having five fixtures to play.

Stellenbosch are seeking a first appearance in Africa while Pirates were crowned CAF champions in 1995 and finished runners-up 18 years later.

Rayners netted three times with his right foot and twice with his left as he soared to the top of the Premiership scorers chart with 13 goals, two more than his closest rivals.

The 28-year-old, who returned to the western Cape club last season after an unsuccessful spell with SuperSport United, scored the only goal of the first half on 17 minutes.

He then scored four more times in a 17-minute blitz, which began midway through the second half in the winelands town of Stellenbosch.

Having received the man-of-the-match award, Rayners deflected attention away from his achievement, stressing that “a great team effort led to my personal success”.

A controversially awarded penalty, which Patrick Maswanganyi converted on 29 minutes in Pietermaritzburg, set up Pirates for an ultimately comfortable victory over lowly Royal.

TV replays showed Maswanganyi being fouled just outside the area, but after consulting with one of his assistants, the referee stuck with his original decision to award a spot kick.

Royal faded in the final quarter of a match watched by a capacity 15,000 crowd in the eastern city and Thalente Mbatha, Relebohile Mofokeng and Kabelo Dlamini scored for the Buccaneers.

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