TTM defend performance after Swallows clinch title under controversial circumstances

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  • Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivandila (TTM) defended their performance after Swallows FC gained automatic promotion with a 3-0 win on Sunday.
  • Swallows FC were dramatically crowned GladAfrica champions due to a superior goal difference, thanks to a single goal.
  • TTM strongly denied claims that they had purposefully put in a lacklustre performance after being 2-0 down within 15 minutes.

GladAfrica Championship side Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivandila (TTM) have strongly defended their performance after Swallows FC gained automatic promotion to the Absa Premiership with a controversial 3-0 win on Sunday.

Third-placed TTM - who had already secured a promotion play-off spot - were outclassed at the Makhulong Stadium by Swallows, who went on to be crowned as the inaugural GladAfrica Championship champions.

Swallows clinched the title by a superior goal difference of just one goal.

Second-placed Ajax Cape Town - who beat Mbombela United 3-0 - narrowly fell short of automatic promotion despite, at one stage in the season, enjoying a nine-point lead with only five games remaining.

Despite Swallows head coach Brandon Truter's side being the lowest-scoring team (41 goals) to ever win the second division they were soon 2-0 up against TTM after just 16 minutes.

Both goals came as a result of some shocking defensive errors, with TTM then bizarrely making a triple substitution in the 22nd minute.

Accusations were made by fans that TTM had allegedly thrown the match, with the club coming out to strongly deny these claims and insisting that they had every intention of winning the contest.

"The team has worked hard in their fight for promotion and if we didn't want promotion we wouldn't have fought to win the games since the resumption of football," TTM spokesperson Vhahangwele Madzivhandila told Sport24.

"That's what you saw yesterday, 20 minutes in, 2-0 down and three changes were made because the team were trying to win the game.

"I'm going to be honest. How many teams have used the same players over and over after the restart with the joy of playing without injury? 

"Even a team like Mamelodi Sundowns have been struggling with injury. Kaizer Chiefs are also struggling and are those same people going to accuse Sundowns too of not wanting to win?

"Every single team is suffering from fatigue and look even at Swallows in the second half - they were struggling to break through our defence because they too were tired.

"What Swallows did best was to score early goals, so you cannot say now that TTM didn't try to win the game because Swallows had the better plan and that was to pounce early.

"By the time we realised, we tried to bring in reinforcements but it was too late.

"Ajax Cape Town didn't lose the league because of TTM. They lost the league because they couldn't keep up. Moroka Swallows winning the league had nothing to do with yesterday's game."

After the setback of conceding two early goals, TTM were again unfortunate to concede a third goal in the 62nd minute with TV replays showing the goal to be clearly offside.

This eventually proved to be the difference between Swallows and Ajax CT in determining who finished top of the table.

TTM head coach Lucky Nelukau confirmed that fatigue had played a role in his decision to make the triple substitution within the first 20 minutes as he also had an eye on the upcoming play-offs.

"I think with certain players, their legs were heavy," Nelukau said. "But we still have six more days to prepare for the play-offs, so let's go back to the bio-bubble and try to rest. After that I will sit down with them and try to motivate them because I think it's very important for us to win the play-offs. In order for the players to protect their jobs, they need to win the play-offs for me."
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