Nathi Lions miss out on NFD final after dull display

2010-03-25 00:00

MPUMALANGA Black Aces advanced to the final of the National First Division play-offs where they will meet Black Leopards next week, leaving scores of Nathi Lions fans in shock.

Local fans had come out in support of Lions, hoping the Durban club would make it to the final and stand a chance of qualifying for the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

However, a dull and uninspiring display by Lions led to their demise as the visitors took full control of proceedings, especially in the second half.

Before last night’s game, Lions coach Mlungisi “Professor” Ngubane had raised concerns about his side’s defensive play.

The veteran mentor’s worries seemed justified as his charges allowed Mpumalanga Black Aces to claw their way back, running out 2-0 victors at Chatsworth Stadium in Durban. Lions had done well in the first leg in Mpumalanga last week, coming back with a hard fought 2-2 draw, which put them in a good position on the return match.

However, Lions did not show any sense of urgency and were duly punished when Aces striker, Sibusiso Dabi, blasted home from close range in the 65th minute to give the visitors an advantage over their inexperienced opponents.

Although Lions did try to get back into the game with the introduction of the speedy pair of Siphamandla Zaca and Thula Ndlovu, it proved to be a little too late as the visitors had closed shop at the back.

Lions came close to an equaliser late in the second half when Songwe Chalwe got into the end of a Chris Makhoba cross, but his header went agonisingly wide of the target.

With the home fans trying to urge their side on, Lions midfielder, Enver Wiltwer gifted the ball to Aces’ Sandile Zuke, who set off a great pass to Mpho Maleka, and he made no mistake in putting the game beyond the home side’s reach with a great finish.

In the other play-off game, Leopards proceeded to the final, despite losing 3-0 on the night away to African Warriors in the Free State.

The aggregate score was 4-3 in favour of Leopards, who ran riot at home and beat Warriors 4-0 in the first leg a week ago. Result: Nathi Lions (0) 0

Black Aces (0) 2

Aces win 4-2 on aggregate

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