After a long and tumultuous road, the 2019/20 ABC Motsepe League season will come to an end on Saturday.
Bizana Pondo Chiefs will take on Pretoria Callies in the final of the national promotional playoffs for the R1 million first prize.
By virtue of qualifying for the final, both teams have earned automatic promotion to the GladAfrica Championship.
It has been a long season that has been greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. The amateur league was recently in limbo as it grappled with how to complete the campaign amid the global health crisis.
The big dilemma was testing players and staff for Covid-19, and figuring out who would bear that cost.
In the end, Safa made the controversial decision to declare the teams at the top of their provincial leagues the champions.
The decision infuriated some clubs who were contenders near the top of the table.
Bizana, in fact, were only one point ahead of Spear of the Nation in their stream in the Eastern Cape, with the latter having a game in hand.
The nine provincial “winners” eventually converged last week at the Vaal University of Technology in Gauteng for the national playoffs.
Bizana coach Tshepo Motsoeneng was previously in charge of Tornado FC, the Eastern Cape outfit whose owner, Siphiwo “Mawawa” Nyobo, was shot dead after a game in March last year.
Motsoeneng, who left Tornado for Bizana months later, dedicated the win to his late former boss.
“I started this journey with Tornado after football kicked me out. The late chair Mawawa gave me an opportunity and I will always be grateful for that. Unfortunately, he died tragically,” said Motsoeneng, who featured for Cape Town Santos during his playing days in the PSL.
The former goalkeeper explained how he lifted Bizana up from the bottom.
“I found the team in position seven on the log. No one gave us a chance, but we fought hard. This is massive for the people of Bizana. It means infrastructure will be built and revenue will be coming in. We have a chance to change the image of Bizana,” he said.
On the other side, former SuperSport United striker Thabiso Nkoana scored three goals to power Callies to promotion in their 3-1 win over Mangaung United on Thursday.
Nkoana said: “It’s good for Callies to get to the first division. We have young players who will take the opportunity with both hands. We have a game to play on Saturday, so the job is not yet done.”