BLACK Leopards were relegated from the Absa Premiership after the final round of action this past weekend, while there was also heartbreak of a lesser kind for Mamelodi Sundown, Moroka Swallows and Maritzburg United.
A healthy 24 goals were scored in round 30 of the season, five each coming at Goble Park where Lidoda Duvha went down 3-2 to Free State Stars and at the Orlando Stadium, the venue that saw Maritzburg United beat outgoing champions Orlando Pirates by the same margin.
The competition also ended on a bit of a low for the new winners Kaizer Chiefs after they were beaten 1-0 at University of Pretoria, with a goal by Thabo Mosadi (60) handing Tuks all the points at the Mbombela Stadium.
However, Amakhosi had already clinched the title in midweek and the result mattered little as they celebrated a first championship crown in eight years.
Their margin of victory, though, was eventually just a point following Platinum Stars’ 3-0 drubbing of SuperSport United in Rustenburg – goals by Tintswalo Tshabalala (31), Mogakolodi Ngele (36) and Thuso Phala (44) giving Dikwena a lop-sided triumph for a best-ever finish, while Matsatsantsa ended the year sixth.
The Buccaneers’ term also concluded in disappointment after Cuthbert Malajila scored in stoppage time to give the Team of Choice a dramatic win.
Pirates twice led thanks to Tlou Segolela (17) and Khetho Masuku (60), but Malajila’s effort added to goals by Heinrich Isaacks (58) and Ryan de Jongh (86) completed a memorable win.
However, the result was not good enough to lift eventual 11th-placed United into the top eight, a huge let down for the Pietermaritzburg side after a campaign that promised so much more.
Pretoria’s win over Chiefs, meanwhile, helped them climb into eighth spot and qualify for next year’s season-opening top eight ahead of defending champions Swallows and Sundowns.
The Birds, in seventh at the start of the day, drew 1-1 against Bloemfontein Celtic in Dobsonville after goals by Felix Obada (34) and Joel Mogorosi (49) for their respective sides.
Siwelele closed out in an impressive fifth, one place behind another team that had an excellent season, Bidvest Wits, who denied the Brazilians a top-half finish following a 2-2 draw in Atteridgeville.
Richard Henyekane (42) gave Pitso Mosimane’s side the lead, before Ryan Chapman (44) and Bryce Moon (45) turned the match on its head. But Alje Scut (58) levelled matters, although the result was only good enough for a 10th-place finish, two lower than where they had started the day.
The other team that leapfrogged Sundowns was Ea Lla Koto after they came from behind to beat bottom side Leopards, who had started the final round needing a win to have any chance of survival.
They managed two goals through Mongezi Bobe (7) and David Zulu (89). But Kennedy Mweene (39), Dove Wome (59) and Anver Esterhuizen (72) strikes gave the hosts a win that saw them end seventh and relegate the visitors to the National First Division (NFD).
That result also ensured Chippa United would not be automatically relegated, with the Chilli Boys now set for the Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs after they ended on a high with a 2-1 win over AmaZulu thanks to two Brent Carelse (49 and 75) penalties in Durban.
Usuthu, who scored through Bongani Ndulula (4), finished the campaign in 12th place, one spot ahead of Lamontville Golden Arrows after the latter were thrashed 3-0 at Ajax Cape Town.
Mabuthi Khenyeza (8 and 88) scored twice for the Urban Warriors, sandwiching a Toriq Losper (72) effort as the Cape side ended 14th.