BLOEMFONTEIN, May 13 (ANA) – Mamelodi Sundowns gave several of their reserve players some game time, as the new league champions played to a goalless draw with Bloemfontein Celtic in their final Premiership match of the season, at the Dr Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.
With Chippa United drawing 1-1 with Polokwane City at the Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane, and Golden Arrows securing a point in a 1-all draw with Maritzburg United in the KwaZulu Natal derby, the point obtained by Celtic ended up being immaterial as they miss out on a top-eight placing.
Celtic, who have experienced highly inconsistent league form since the start of the year, had the best chance of the first half but midfielder Vusi Shikweni sent his header straight at Sundowns goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Though Sundowns were playing without several of their stars who were being rested after the league title-winning feat, Celtic were not spared the absence of Percy Tau, who terrorised their defence for much of the match.
Central defender Wayne Arendse tried his best to make his presence felt particularly on the attack from set-pieces, but ulitimately the men from Chloorkop would have been happy to head home with a point as the curtain came down on a difficult league season.
Orlando Pirates signed off their Premiership campaign with a 2-1 home win over Free State Stars at Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Though the result was of no consequence to the Buccaneers – who were set to finish runners-up regardless – they will be pleased by ending their campaign on a positive note.
Ea Lla Koto, meanwhile, have bigger fish to fry when they face Maritzburg United in next weekend’s Nedbank Cup final.
Pirates looked the more lively team in the early stages, but they had to wait until the 22nd minute to take the lead, with Ntsikelelo Nyauza getting on the end of a corner kick to direct a header into the top corner of the net.
Sadly for the Bucs goal-scorer he succumbed to a thigh injury just over 10 minutes later and was replaced by Gladwin Shitolo. But even with the disruption in their defence, Pirates were able to see out the half and take a 1-0 lead into the break.
Stars hit back just six minutes into the second half, with a free kick flicked on by Paulus Masehe to find Nhlanhla Vilakazi, who marked his final Ea Lla Koto appearance by sending a low shot beyond Wayne Sandilands to make it 1-1.
The visitors looked to claim the lead for the first time on 63 minutes, with Goodman Dlamini shooting on target from long range, but Sandilands scrambled across his line to palm the ball away for a corner kick.
The Bucs reclaimed the ascendancy in the 85th minute as Justin Shonga’s long-range shot was only half-stopped by substitute goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare, allowing Thamsanqa Gabuza to turn home the loose ball from close range to make it 2-1.
Ajax Cape Town were condemned to the relegation play-offs after going down 2-1 to Kaizer Chiefs at the Cape Town Stadium in their final Premiership match of the season on Saturday.
In a tense and drama-filled 90 minutes, Bernard Parker put the visitors up just after the interval, Ajax showing spirit to bounce back with a goal from Mosa Lebusa, only for Joseph Molangoane to break the home fans’ hearts with a late winner.
The Cape side, never relegated before, will go into the play-offs with the teams which finished second and third in the National First Division, Black Leopards and Jomo Cosmos, after a 15th place finish in the top flight. Their first match will be away at Leopards in Thohoyandou next Wednesday.
It could still get worse for the Parow-based club if they lose the Tendai Ndoro case – in a worst case scenario that could spell automatic relegation.
With no choice but to win, Ajax were on the front foot from the start. But they struggled to create openings, while Chiefs always looked a threat on the break-away.
The first real chance came on 20 minutes when Roscoe Pietesen’s back-heeled effort struck the upright, before Daniel Cardoso cleared off the goal line.
There was also a good chance for the Urban Warriors 10 minutes before the break when Yannick Zakri created space for himself on the let hand side of the box, but Brilliant Khuzwayo, in for the injured Itumeleng Khune, made an excellent save at the near post.
Ajax keeper Jody February was called into the action for the first time in the 44th minute and he kept his team in the game with a smart reflex save after Parker had connected sweetly with a half-volley inside the box.
The Cape side would have been read the riot act by coach Muhsin Ertugral at half-time and they came out playing with purpose after the restart.
But instead it was Amakhosi who were to take the lead – an unmarked Parker heading in from a George Maluleka corner in the 50th minute.
The home side responded well and Tashrique Morris fired a thumping drive just over the bar, before the Ajax striker was kept out with another outstanding save from Khuzwayo.
The pressure paid off in the 64th minute when from a corner kick, Urban Warriors skipper Lebusa picked out the top corner of the net with a superb header.
Siphiwe Tshabalala should have put the Soweto giants back in front two minutes later, but he lacked conviction from 10-yards out in front of goal and February made a good save, before Parker miscued from just five yards out.
With the match on a knife-edge, the action continued to go from end-to-end, although it was Ajax who had two more good chances as Pietersen’s header was kept out by Khuzwayo, before Mario Booysen’s heavy touch saw an opportunity go to waste right in front of goal with 18 minutes to play.
With Booysen moved from defence to attack and Ajax pushing numbers forward, there was plenty of space for the visitors to exploit and they wrapped up the game in the 86th minute when Molangoane smashed the ball into the roof of the net from five yards out after February had parried a cross.
For Chiefs fans, who have endured a largely unhappy season, the win at least secured third spot on the league standings and brings with it qualification to the 2019 Caf Confederation Cup.
Results from the final round of Premiership fixtures played around South Africa on Saturday are as follows:
Ajax Cape Town 1-2 Kaizer Chiefs
Bloemfontein Celtic 0-0 Mamelodi Sundowns
Maritzburg United 1-1 Golden Arrows
AmaZulu FC 1-0 Cape Town City FC
SuperSport United 1-0 Baroka FC
Polokwane City 1-1 Chippa United
Orlando Pirates 2-1 Free State Stars
Platinum Stars 1-0 Wits