Swallows FC soar back to the Premiership after winning promotion on dramatic final day
Swallows FC soared back to the Premiership with a 3-0 victory over Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila FC (TTM) to book their place in the top-flight ahead of the start of the new season next month.
Given Thibedi put the Dube Birds in the lead as early as the seventh minute and Kagiso Malinga doubled the advantage with a second strike a few minutes later.
Malinga completed a brace with his 11th goal of the season in the second half as Swallows won automatic promotion and were crowned GladAfrica Championship winners at Makhulong Stadium in Thembisa on Sunday.
Swallows took 27 points at home and another set of 27 away from home to finish level on 57 points with long time leaders Ajax Cape Town but the sleeping giants of Soweto woke from its slumber and clinched promotion by a whisker thanks to their better goal difference.
The three goals meant heartbreak for Ajax‚ who could only manage a 3-0 win over Mbombela United when a 4-0 scoreline would have been enough to clinch automatic promotion.
Having led the standings for much of the season and at some stage nine points ahead before the Covid-19 disruptions‚ Ajax coach Calvin Marlin will have his work cut out to get his charges fired up for the unpredictable promotion/relegation playoffs next week.
While Swallows will smile to the bank to cash out a R3m cheque for their efforts‚ the Urban Warriors will pick up the pieces and their spears in the dog-eat-dog fight situation of playoffs along with third-placed TTM and the team that finishes 15th in the Absa Premiership for another bite at of the promotion pie.
It became nervy towards the end though when‚ with Swallows leading 3-0 against TTM‚ Ajax made it 3-0 for themselves against Mbombela in the dying minutes of the match.
Ajax just needed another last-gasp goal at the death and they would have been home and drybbut fell agonisingly shot in the end.
It is a remarkable achievement for coach Brandon Truter‚ who joined Swallows at the end of September to replace Zeca Marques with the club positioned 13th having only recorded one win in their opening five games of the season.
The Cape Town-born Truter turned Swallows into a formidable team and guided the side that set out its stall to survive rather than challenge for the title to a championship neck-on-neck tussle with Ajax before the coronavirus-enforced break five months ago.
Truter moulded Swallows into a predatory mode in the bio-safe bubble with five wins in six matches to storm into top position and displace long-time leaders Ajax.
They have amassed 27 points at home and another set of 27 away.
Jomo Sono and his Cosmos charges survived the jaws of relegation by a single point as they needed to win against University of Pretoria to stay safe and they did with a 1-0 win at the Wits Rugby Stadium.
Relegated Royal Eagles were joined on their way to the third-tier ABC Motsepe League by Mpumalanga outfit TS Sporting‚ who were relegated despite their come from behind 2-1 win over Cape Umoya United at the Tuks Stadium in Tshwane.