Jubilation at lucky escape

2016-05-23 11:46
Mohau Mokate and Tawfeeq Salie celebrate with Evans Rusike after he scored the third goal for Maritzburg United during their Premier Soccer League game against Jomo Cosmos on Saturday that secured their place in the top flight.

Mohau Mokate and Tawfeeq Salie celebrate with Evans Rusike after he scored the third goal for Maritzburg United during their Premier Soccer League game against Jomo Cosmos on Saturday that secured their place in the top flight. (Gallo Images )

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Pietermaritzburg - It was the greatest of great escapes on Saturday when Maritzburg United defeated Jomo Cosmos 3-1, securing their place in the Premier Soccer League for next season.

The Team of Choice had been bottom of the table for virtually the entire season, but two wins in their final two games meant they finished 14th on the table, and away from danger.

“It was the greatest of escapes, and we have to acknowledge the manner in which it was achieved,” club chairman Farook Kadodia told The Witness yesterday.

“We always said we would fight until the end, and that is exactly what we did,” Kadodia said.

United travelled to Potchefstroom for the game with almost a thousand fans, and outnumbered the home support for the crucial encounter against the now relegated Jomo Cosmos. Also among the supporters was Msunduzi mayor Chris Ndlela.

Crowds at Harry Gwala have also been amazing, and the club has been among the best supported in the country with higher attendances for home games than teams such as Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

“The fans were the 12th man for us. They’ve supported us even when we were losing game after game,” the chairman said.

“The province could have been left with just one team in the Premier League, but fortunately we are still there. But we need more teams from KZN in the Premier League.”

For now, the club was “digesting” their great escape, and Kadodia said they would sit down during the week to map the way forward, such as the future of the coach Ernst Middendorp, whose contract with the club is nearly up.

“We would love to have the coach remain with us … We believe that he’s added a lot of value to the team.”

When the German joined the club at the end of last year, they had picked up just five points in the league, and had won just one game. They finished the campaign with six wins, and amassed 21 more points under Middendorp.

KZN Sports MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha congratulated the club and Middendorp for retaining their top flight status, saying the win “bodes well for the development of football in the province”.

“Credit must also go to the Maritzburg United fans for their relentless support during the tough season for the team,” she said in a statement.

She added that the department would continue to work with the football fraternity to ensure that “the province maintains a fair representation in top flight football through development programmes”.
SEE MORE ON PAGE 20

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  maritzburg united

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