Black Leopards are becoming playoff specialists after clinching their return to the money-spinning Premiership on Friday afternoon.
The Venda-based club have won the promotional playoffs with one game to spare. They beat Ajax Cape Town 2-0 at the Rand Stadium. Leopards also won the playoffs two seasons ago under coach Dylan Kerr after also finishing 15th at the time.
A goal from Isaac Masia in the 14th minute and Mwape Musonda’s strike in the 79th minute secured the victory for Leopards. They have an insurmountable lead of nine points.
Ajax have six points and have played all their games. By retaining their place in the Premiership, Leopards have avoided a huge financial hit which would have seen them go from earning a R2.5 million monthly grant to R500 000 in the NFD.
Ajax have failed in their mission to return to the premier division and the club’s management will have to shoulder the blame for destabilising the team after coach Andries Ulderink was axed in dramatic fashion. A boardroom squabble led to the Dutchman quitting in protest of the suspension of development coach Hans Vonk.
Ajax have now suffered a double heartbreak after they missed out on automatic qualification on the last day of the GladAfrica Championship last month. The Mother City club had been on top the standings since January but were beaten to the finish line by Swallows.
The Dube Birds won it on goal difference, by a single goal. Ajax, as runners up, they qualified for the promotional playoffs against Leopards and Tshakhuma.
In an inconsequential last match on Monday, Leopards will take on Tskahuma Tsha Madzivhandila.