Leopards set up playoff finale against Baroka

Leopards set up playoff finale against Baroka
Mwape Musonda of Black Leopards (r) celebrates goal with teammates during the National First Division 2016/17 PSL/NFD Playoffs football match between Stellenbosch FC and Black Leopards at Athlone Stadium, Cape Town on 14 June 2017 ©Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Jun 14, 2017. 21:37

Black Leopards have set up a potentially thrilling end to the PSL Promotion Playoffs after they defeated Stellenbosch FC 3-1 at Athlone Stadium on Wednesday.

Lidoda Duvha will host provincial rivals Baroka FC in the final match this weekend knowing that a two-goal victory will see them end on top of the three-team league table and secure a return to South Africa’s top flight.

Leopards took their time to find an attacking rhythm, but once they clicked upfront they created chance after chance. Phatutshedzi Nange was their most threatening player, forcing goalkeeper Edward More into a save on 21 minutes and blazing a shot just over the target on the half hour mark.

In the 39th minute the Limpopo side were rewarded for their efforts. Mumuni Abubakar’s long-range shot was well saved by More, but the ‘keeper could do nothing to prevent Mwape Musonda scoring from the rebound.

In injury time before the interval, Musonda made it 2-0 when he tapped into an empty net. Meshack Maphangule was the architect of the goal, stealing the ball off Stellenbosch’s defence before drawing the ‘keeper off his line and unselfishly squaring for Musonda.

Stellies made an attacking change at the start of the second half when they introduced Mame Niang in place of Jason Skippers. They pulled a goal back on 65 minutes, but it came in bizarre circumstances.

With Leopards having sportingly put the ball out of play, the Cape side looked to return it from near the halfway line through Petrus Shitembi, who punted it toward Rotshidzwa Muleka. However, the goalkeeper horribly misjudged the bounce and saw the ball travel beyond his reach and into the back of the net to reduce the deficit to 2-1.

Lidoda Duvha’s two-goal advantage was restored in the 74th minute when Abubakar got on the end of an in-swinging corner kick and forced the ball home from close range, overpowering More in an aerial battle.

The result saw Leopards move to four points (with a goal difference of +1), three adrift of leaders Baroka FC (with a goal difference of +3). The teams will meet in the final playoff match at Thohoyandou Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Stellenbosch FC (0) 1 (Shitembi 65’)
Black Leopards (2) 3 (Musonda 39’ 45+3’, Abubakar 74’)

Stellenbosch: More, De Goede, Skippers (Niang 46’), Booysen, Rowell, Webber, Dien (van Rooyen 73’), Mabua, Mekoa, Moroole, Shitembi

Leopards: Muleka, Munyai, Mabotja, Munganga, Ndou, Abubakar, Nange, Maphangule (Mahangwahaya 72’), Musonda, Ntshangase, Zimu (Shivambu 86’)

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