NFD teams now happy

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

Mcelwa Nchabeleng

National First Division (NFD) officials yesterday expressed satisfaction that the protracted corruption and bribery case gainst FC AK's boss Aziz Kara was finally over.

These are the officials of the clubs that have qualified for the NFD relegation-promotional playoffs which kick off next week.

The clubs are FC AK, Maritzburg United, Dynamos, Bay United and Black Leopards.

The conclusion of the widely-publicised case came to an end on Tuesday night when arbitrator Hilton Epstein, SC, issued the verdict that brought FC AK back into the playoffs.

This after Bahumi temporarily lost their playoffs berth after Safa's appeals board deducted 15 points from them on May 27.

This moved them from the top of the Inland Stream log to seventh spot.

Safa's appeals board also banned Kara for life from soccer activities, but on Tuesday Epstein reduced the life ban to 10 years, but also slapped the side's boss with a R500000 fine.

FC AK were also given the same fine but half was suspended for 60 days, and Kara was further ordered to pay the costs of the hearing that could be over R1 million.

The off-season showpiece will determine the two teams for promotion to the Absa Premiership.

Though the club officials admitted yesterday that the case had affected their preparations, they said they were nevertheless ready for the event.

Farouk Kadodia, Maritzburg United's boss, said now that they knew who they would play in the first playoff matches that will determine a team for an automatic promotion to the top flight, they could not wait to take on Bahumi on June 25.

Pat Malabela, Dynamos' boss, said: "I will be wrong if I can say we were not disappointed by the delay. But we are ready for the matches."

Bay United's general manager Senzo Mazingisa said: "We are happy it is over and it will be business as usual on the pitch."

Leopards' spokesman Tshifhiwa Thidiela said: "We are ready to fight our way back to the elite league in this event."

Kara did not return a message left for him in his office yesterday.

Bahumi host The Team of Choice in the first leg at Eldorado Park next Wednesday and the return leg will be at Harry Gwala Stadium on July 29.

The other playoff matches kick off on July 2 and the final will be played on Juy 9 and 13.