LIMPOPO’s National First Division-bound side Baroka FC, sealed their promotion into the second tier of the professional league in style when they pipped fellow promoted side
Maluti FC 2-1 in the final of the play offs at the Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa today to round off an exciting week of football that produced fifty-six goals in total.
Baroka FC proved to be the better side of the new kids in the National First Division (NFD) and deservedly won the championship title to complete a memorable week before they could also sweep everything in the individual awards.
Both teams got off to a flying start looking for the opener that would set the tone for the rest of the match.
Baroka took the lead in the 17th minute through enterprising play by Khotso Chabeli.
The industrious playmaker got the better of the Maluti defence, having dribbled his
way past a number of players before planting a powerful shot into the right-hand
corner of the opposition goal to put Baroka into the lead.
Maluti didn’t want to leave anything to chance and they reacted immediately by
making their first substitution of the day to reinforce their strike force, bringing
on Malefetsane Rankati for Tumelo Mokwa.
But the creative Limpopo side surged further having won the critical middle field
battle. They took advantage of the disorganised Maluti defence to make it 2-0
through Khunadi Nkoana 20 minutes later.
Chabeli continued to harass the Maluti defence and could have made it 3-0 going into
the break but the Free State side’s defence stood firm to avoid further damage.
Maluti came from the break looking a changed side and looking for a goal that would
bring them back into the match.
Fifteen minutes into the half, Maluti made two more changes to liven up their squad
and were rewarded shortly after when Malefetsane Rankanti took a long-range shot
that caught Baroka’s outstanding keeper Mothwa off guard for what was ultimately a
consolation goal for the Free State side.
The excitement in the stands prompted Baroka not to sit back and they surged forward
searching for the elusive third goal as the match ultimately ended 2-1.
Baroka were reduced to 10-man with three minutes to go after Sifiso Mbhele was sent
for a dangerous tackle and despite Maluti sensing some reward the match ended with
Baroka being crowned champions.
Following a week of exciting soccer, there was an award ceremony to recognise
outstanding players. Coach of the tournament award went to Baroka mentor, Sello
Veli Mothwa of Baroka FC also walked away with the Goalkeeper of the tournament
award for his heroics between the posts. He conceded only four goals throughout the
tournament. Player of the tournament was awarded to Baroka’s Khunadi Nkoana who also
walked away with top goal scorer of the tournament award. Nkoana shared the Top goal
scorer award with Collen Zimba of Vardos FC with six goals each.
Coach of the tournament- Sello Chokoe (Baroka FC)
Goalkeeper of the tournament – Veli Mothwa (Baroka FC)
Player of the tournament – Khunadi Nkoana (Baroka FC)
Top Goal Scorer- shared between Khunadi Nkoana of Baroka FC and Collen Zimba of Vardos