The South Africa Premier Division on Saturday relegated Namibian internationals Peter Shalulile and Chris Katjiukua’s premiership club Highlands Park FC from that country’s topflight Absa Premiership after a 2-all draw against Mamelodi Sundowns.
With the draw, Mamelodi Sundowns secured themselves CAF Champions League football for next season, while the result went in the total opposite direction for struggling Highlands Park.
Reliable Brave Warriors defender Katjiukua joined Highlands Park in February this year following his release by former club Golden Arrows. The other two Namibians playing for the Lions of the North, as Highlands Park is affectionately known, are Peter Shalulile and Hendrick Somaeb, who are both also regulars for the national team.
A fairly tame start to Saturday’s match saw chances few and far between in the opening 15 minutes, but Franklin Cale came close from a free kick that brought a fine save from Denis Onyango.
It was then Sundowns’ turn to threaten a few minutes later with Sibusiso Vilakazi bursting through on goal, although his touch let him down to allow the defence to just nip in and clear the danger.
Thapelo Morena then came close midway through the first-half after getting on the end of a deep delivery, although he was unable to find the target as Highlands were let off the hook.
The Brazilians eventually made the breakthrough with eight minutes of the first-half remaining as Themba Zwane unleashed a blistering effort which left the goalkeeper no chance.
Four minutes before half-time Pitso Mosimane’s men were 2-0 up after winning a penalty when Tapuwa Kapini brought down Yannick Zakri in the area, with Thabo Nthethe stepping up to slot home from the spot.
The Lions weren’t out of it yet, though, and managed to pull one back just before the break, Seun Ledwaba firing home after being played in by Surprise Moriri.
Highlands arguably should have been level shortly after the restart as Mothobi Mvala broke through on goal with only Onyango to beat, but somehow failed to even test the goalkeeper as he put his effort wide.
Sundowns looked set to restore their two-goal cushion as Zakri put on the afterburners as he pushed his way towards goal, only for his touch to let him down and allow the defence to clear the ball away at the last moment.
The Tshwane giants then had Onyango to thank for keeping them in the lead as he did well to save from Cale’s shot with 15 minutes remaining.
However, the Lions would eventually get their equaliser as Mothobi Mvala struck in the 94th minute, although the result was not sufficient for Highlands Park, who ended rock bottom, and head straight back to the NFD.
On a positive note, Virgil Vries’ Maritzburg United managed to secure a top-8 league finish following Friday’s 1-all draw against compatriot Deon Hotto’s Bloemfontein Celtics, which saw them finishing 7th overall on 38 points. – Additional info: Kickoff.com