Highlands Park will play top-flight football next year after just a year of plying their trade in the National First Division (NFD).
Their return to the Premier Soccer League (PSL) was confirmed by their 5-1 win over University of Pretoria at Makhulong.
It was an encounter where they needed just a draw to be back in the elite-league but Sphiwe Mahlangu, Moeketsi Sekola, Lindokuhle Mbatha, Peter Shalulile and Vukile Mngqibisa, made sure that they do so in style.
Coming into this encounter, The Lions of the North knew that they would not take Tuks for granted as they have fallen to their sword in the first half of the season. But their improved performance in terms of the scoring spree made sure that they ran victorious.
This is a side that has scored 51 goals in 26 games, and only conceded 10 times so far. However,hadn’t it been for former Bafana Bafana assistant coach Owen Da Gama, the team from Tembisa wouldn’t be in delight of playing in the country’s top league so soon. ‘ODG’ took over the reins in September last year from Terry Mulondzo and his assistant Les Grobler after a poor run of form.
The team at the time were languishing in ninth position with six points from five games. One can just imagine the impact the former Orlando Pirates and Platinum Stars coach has had at the club. It was also after the embarrassment of being frozen as Bafana's assistant after coach Shakes Mashaba was sacked. However, it’s not only Da Gama who inspired The Lions of the North's immediate return to the PSL.
The longest serving players like Mthobi Mvalo, Tapuwa Kapini and Lindokuhle Mbatha did just enough to narrate to the young and new squad what it feels like playing in the highest division, hence Nambian Peter Shalulile ensured that the goals came for team. Highlands might be joined by either of two former PSL teams Jomo Cosmos or Black Leopards who are currently fighting for a spot in the play-offs. But it will up to the two clubs to make sure that they don’t only qualify but they make sure that they win the play-offs as well.