JOHANNESBURG – Black Leopards had probably started making plans for life in the Premiership when Jomo Cosmos captain Thato Lingwati snapped them out of dreamland with a goal in optional time to remind Lidoda Duvha of the nightmares they’ve had in the playoffs in a 2-2 draw on Sunday.
Lidoda Duvha are appearing in their fourth playoffs in five seasons. The previous three editions have all ended in disappointment for the Limpopo side.
They looked on course to exorcise that ghost at Vosloorus Stadium on Sunday with a comfortable display against Ezenkosi, bossing the hosts off the park.
Cosmos played half-ground for the better part of the second half in trying to contain a rampant Leopards led by Mwape Musonda, who scored.
But a lapse in concentration towards the end opened the door for Cosmos, who now believe that they can end their two-year stint in the first division.
Before Lingwati’s goal, it was Leopards who had the belief that the day they were promised will come was on the horizon.
A brace from Musonda looked to have put Leopards in pole position of the three-team mini-league that also features Platinum Stars.
The Zambian forward missed Leopards’ 1-0 win over Dikwena through injury.
He was thrown straight into the starting XI upon regaining full fitness, and he rewarded coach Joel Masutha with a brace that looked like it would move Leopards closer to being the 16th team in the Premiership for the 2018/19 season.
But Lingwati had other ideas, scoring late to ensure that these playoffs will be a contest.
Cosmos will take on Dikwena on Wednesday in Phokeng, looking to register their first win in the playoffs.
Sunday’s draw, however, felt like a win for Ezenkosi, with their fans looking glum just before Lingwati gave them something to cheer for.
Musonda’s brace, which was sandwiched in between Ismael Mgunda’s lucky goal, put Leopards in dreamland.
Lidoda Duvha supporters started to believe that their nightmarish run in the playoffs was over.
Some of those Leopards’ fans carried a coffin, on which it was written “R.I.P. – No waiting period”.
There will be a waiting period if Leopards are to bury Ezenkosi and Dikwena, as Cosmos showed great character to salvage a point in a match in which they were second-best in almost everything but the scoreline.
A number of fans tried to force their way inside this stadium without tickets. Metro Police and security personnel stood firm, and those ticketless fans could only hear the drama happening inside.
While those supporters were struggling to get inside, Leopards’ one foot in the Premiership was rudely brought back to its place, thanks to Lingwati’s equaliser.
Lingwati’s goal was big not only for Ezenkosi, but also for the defender, whose mistakes in the past have cost Cosmos dearly.
Lingwati was there when Cosmos were relegated two years ago.
He is motivated to say that he was there when they bounced back and he led Ezenkosi back to the elite league.
To do that, Cosmos have to be more lethal upfront in their two meetings with Dikwena and trip to Thohoyandou, which has all the hallmarks of a slaughterhouse.