Black Leopards celebrate after their win over Jomo Cosmos on Wednesday. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - The day finally came. Lidoda Duvha will return to top flight football next season after winning the play-offs they contested with Ezenkosi and former Premier Division side Platinum Stars.

Dikwena failed to make the most of the lifeline they were handed, having finished the Absa Premiership in 16th position but then upgraded to 15th after Ajax Cape Town lost their case on the eligibility of Tendai Ndoro - who played for three teams in a season. 

Stars is now a National First Division team, three months after they were bought by a consortium that also features head coach Roger de Sa.

While De Sa will be counting his loss, David Thidiela will be smiling all the way to the bank as his team will return to the land of milk and honey.

Leopards will now get a monthly grant of R1.5-million instead of the paltry R300 000 they received in the first division.

Karabo Tshepe scored the all-important goal which ignited an already fiery crowd in anticipation of Leopards booking their place in the Premier Division.

The Leopards’ winger scored with a lovely volley, finishing a well-worked move that was started by Phathutshendzi Nange who stole the ball from Ezenkosi and gave it to Mwape Musonda. The lethal Zambian forward threaded the ball to Joseph Mhlongo whose cross was met by Tshepe to start the party.

The party reached fever-pitch at fulltime as Leopards ended their curse in the play-offs. These are the fourth play-offs that Leopards have taken part in during the last five years.

The three other editions ended in disappointment for the Limpopo side. That turned their slogan, Lidoda Duvha, which translates to "the day will come", into a point of ridicule as they were met with husi namusi – not today. Those jokes ended on Wednesday with the day finally arriving for Leopards who will now campaign in the elite league.

The real work now begins for Leopards on and off the field to ensure that they are ready to mix and hold their own against the big boys. Lidoda Duvha have to bolster their defence which was exposed in these play-offs.

The team also needs to make certain alterations to the Thohoyandou Stadium to ensure that it’s fit to host Premier Division matches. If they don’t do that, they will play almost 200km away from home in Polokwane, stripping them of their biggest arsenal which is their vociferous supporters.

IOL Sport

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