The Mercury

KZN’s AmaZulu, Eagles miss out on play-off spots

- Kamlesh Gosai

THE hopes of KwaZulu-Natal having four clubs in the Absa Premiershi­p were dashed in the final round of the National First Division yesterday.

After Thanda Royal Zulu won the championsh­ip in the penultimat­e round to secure promotion, AmaZulu and Royal Eagles went into the final day with a chance of qualifying for the promotion-relegation play-offs. However Durban-based AmaZulu and Eagles of Pietermari­tzburg lost out to Stellenbos­ch.

The Cape outfit secured the remaining play-off berth to join Black Leopards in the mini-league tournament that kicks off at the end of the month. The second-bottom finisher from the top league is the other team in the competitio­n.

Going into the final round AmaZulu occupied third position, the final play-off spot behind Leopards who had already qualified. However Usuthu lost 1-0 away to FC Cape Town and were overtaken by Stellenbos­ch, who beat already relegated Santos by the same score to climb into third place. That meant Eagles’ victory at Witbank Spurs didn’t factor into the equation, as they ended fourth after overtaking AmaZulu.

FC Cape Town meanwhile avoided relegation with that home win over AmaZulu who will remain in the second tier for a third season next term.

Celebrated

At the top of the standings Thanda celebrated their promotion with a come-from-behind win over Durban rookies Real Kings. The champions won their 17th game of the campaign with two second half goals after Kings led 1-0 at the break in Clermont.

Ntsako Malhubela gave Kings the lead after he finished a flowing move from his own half with a rasping drive. Thanda of Richards Bay hit back with goals from Mhlengi Cele and Khotso Malope to spark celebratio­ns at a wet Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium.

Kings meanwhile ensured they survived their debut season in the profession­al ranks, finishing 11th after a decent second round. It was a different story for the other promoted club, Magesi FC, who were relegated

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