In a dramatic end to this year’s PSL campaign, Kaizer Chiefs stole thunder from the coronation of champions Mamelodi Sundowns yesterday by snatching the final top-eight berth from TS Galaxy, who themselves were on the cusp of making history.
Striker Samir Nurkovic’s headed first-half goal not only brought some spark to a rather poor season by Amakhosi, but the deciding strike set up a blockbuster MTN8 quarterfinal against Sundowns in the season-opening R8 million competition.
Yesterday’s victory was the second on the trot for Chiefs, who beat Golden Arrows 3-2 mid-week – the second time this season they achieved such feat.
The win also shone the spotlight on Amakhosi caretaker coaches, Arthur Zwane and Dillion Sheppard, who took charge after their principal Gavin Hunt was sacked a fortnight ago.
Former coach Stuart Baxter has been linked to the vacant Amakhosi coaching job.
Meanwhile, Sundowns thrashed Cape Town City in Pretoria to ensure they concluded the season with a fifth straight win since the Brazilians’ defeat to Chiefs in April.
Sundowns lost only once this season, which interestingly bettered Amakhosi’s record of least defeats - two - in a 30-game PSL campaign.
To cap their crowning moment as the inaugural winners of the rebranded DStv Premiership since the satellite services provider took over as title sponsors in September, Sundowns also claimed the R15 million first-prize purse.
This is the second season in a row that the Brazilians have lifted aloft the league trophy as the games continued to be staged behind closed doors due to Covid-19 restrictions prohibiting fans at stadiums.
Last CAF slot filled
Apart from the battle to settle the top-eight line-up, Orlando Pirates secured third place to decide the last CAF Confederation Cup slot, despite the share of spoils against a Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) side that has also qualified for the second-tier continental club competition by virtue of being the Nedbank Cup champions. Sundowns and runners-up AmaZulu will represent the country in the prestigious Champions League.
Historic season for Galaxy and Arrows
Despite missing out on a historic top-eight place due an inferior goal difference, Galaxy will look back at their debut campaign with pride since the club bought the Premiership status of Highlands Park at the start of the season.
Similarly, by finishing fourth, coach Mandla Ncikazi and his Arrows squad of home-grown players outdid themselves as they attained their highest finish since Abafana Bes’thende’s first promotion to the elite league in the 2001/02 season.
Chippa head to the play-offs but who are their opponents?
Chippa United failed to move from the 15th spot after SuperSport United forced a draw in a game the Chilli Boys needed a win while hoping for Stellenbosch and Maritzburg United to lose. However, it was not to be and Chippa will head to the promotional play-offs against the first division runners-up and third-placed sides.
At this stage, the first division candidates that will compete in the promotion/relegation play-offs are virtually unknown due to a pending court case that will seek to resolve the promotion standoff between Royal AM and Sekhukhune United.
According to a PSL table, Royal finished on top with 51 points, while Sekhukhune came second with 50 points.
However, Sekhukhune were awarded three points by an arbitrator for their match against Polokwane City, where the latter was found guilty of failing to comply with the rule that requires teams to have five Under-23 players for games. The PSL is yet to award those points and wants to overturn this decision.
A case management meeting between the parties involved and deputy judge president of the Johannesburg High Court met on Thursday to iron out the procedure of the case.
Richards Bay have also joined the case as an interested party, according to owner Sifiso Biyela.
“As an affected party, our lawyers are part of the proceedings. As things stand, we have qualified for the play-offs and we want to find out who we are going to face,” he said.
Although they were relegated in the middle of the week, Black Leopards went down to the first division with a draw against Bloemfontein Celtic. – Additional reporting by Gomolemo Motshwane