The party is over for Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila who now have to focus on league survival
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DURBAN - A thrilled Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila coach Dylan Kerr hailed his troops for their organised and polished display in their 1-0 Nedbank Cup final win over Chippa United at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday night.
Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo’s long-range shot in the 27th minute proved to be the only goal of the game as TTM secured their first major trophy, which earned them the right to play in the CAF Confederation Cup next season.
“We did make mistakes in the second half which gave them a chance, but we defended like heroes. Credit to Mpho Maleka and David Mathebula as they have been brilliant. We’ve got our reward,” Kerr enthused.
The win would have been a relief and confidence booster for TTM, who have had a roller-coaster first season in top-flight football.
Controversy surrounded some of their signings ahead of the season and it has been a challenging league campaign for them as they are still not safe from relegation.
“It’s a great achievement for TTM after the challenging season. The players have been through many ups and many downs but today they deserved it,” said Kerr, who himself has had an interesting season after having previously coached Black Leopards and Baroka FC earlier in the campaign.
TTM are 14th in the 16-team Premiership and while they are probably safe from automatic relegation, as they are seven points ahead of last-placed Leopards, they are just one point ahead of Chippa, who are 15th and occupy the spot which would mean they would have to contest the promotion/relegation play-offs.
The cup triumph will help the Thohoyandou-based club ahead of their crucial upcoming league clash against SuperSport United on Wednesday.
However, Kerr does understand that his club cannot afford to rest on their laurels if they wish to survive the dreaded drop.
“The players have got to enjoy tonight but not too much because we’ve got a very tricky upcoming game against SuperSport United and we know that we are not clear of danger,” he said on Saturday night.
TTM will certainly have a lot of work to do in the off season if they want to build a side which is capable of being competitive in the Confederation Cup, but being able to participate in Africa’s second-tier club competition will provide them with a much needed cash boost and it can also help them to attract new recruits ahead of next season.
TTM’s remaining fixtures will give them hope that they can avoid the drop.
In addition to their fixture against SuperSport, their remaining games will see them do battle against Maritzburg United, Baroka FC, Chippa and Orlando Pirates.
All of their remaining opponents are teams which have struggled for consistency this season and if they are on top of their game, they will certainly have an opportunity to gain points from the games.
Kerr’s men are also now on a run of three wins from four competitive fixtures, so if they can maintain that momentum, they should be able to maintain their top-flight status.