Bay headed for play-offs despite win

SANELE Barns of Richards Bay FC being tackled during the DStv Premiership 2023/24 football match against Stellenbosch. | BackpagePix

SANELE Barns of Richards Bay FC being tackled during the DStv Premiership 2023/24 football match against Stellenbosch. | BackpagePix

Published May 26, 2024


Richards Bay (2) 2

Makhubela 6’ Mbuthuma 17’

Stellenbosch (0) 1

Rayners 59’

RICHARDS Bay were confirmed as the third team in the promotion/relegation play-offs, despite their 2-1 win over Stellenbosch at the King Zwelithini Stadium yesterday.

The Natal Rich Boyz scored two quick-fire, first-half goals and defended for their lives to see out the last game of the season with a victory.

Stellies on the other hand lost an opportunity to play in next season’s CAF Champions League, as they were leapfrogged by Orlando Pirates on the final match day.

The Cape Winelands-based side will compete in the CAF Confederation Cup next season after finishing in third spot on the DStv Premiership log.

A lot was on the line under wet conditions in Umlazi as hosts Richards Bay welcomed CAF-chasing Stellies with a baptism of fire as they scored two quick goals inside 17 minutes.

Ex-Buccaneer Ntsako Makhubela did his former side a huge favour when he scored RBay’s opener in the sixth minute, finishing a fine through ball by Yanela Mbuthuma.

The provider of the first goal quickly put himself on the score sheet as well via a well-delivered free-kick by midfielder of the season nominee Sanele Barns.

Mbuthuma rose highest to guide home his header and give the home side a good chance of beating the odds in the race to secure top-flight safety.

At the halfway stage, it seemed as if the Natal Rich Boy may have worked themselves into a slight chance of safety.

With AM and Moroka Swallows level at the break, home coach Vusumuzi Vilakazi would’ve heard the news coming out of the Dobsonville Stadium and urged his boys to hold onto their lead.

All those ambitions would’ve been gone halfway through the second stanza, however, as Thwihli Thwahla found the lead against 10-men Swallows.

The 2023/2024 play promotion/relegation play-offs will be held between June 2 and June 19.

The exploits of the experienced Dan “Dance” Malesela have steered a largely unfavoured Baroka outfit to the play-offs this time, with the Limpopo-based outfit eager to return to the top flight.

Following their relegation from the DStv Premiership two years ago, Baroka looks a different side nowadays, with experienced heads such as Gift Motupa and Matome Mathiane.

Malesela will be hoping he guides his team back into the top flight at the expense of Bay, a side that went the opposite direction in 2022.

TUKS on the other hand have been knocking on the promotion door, having been a part of the play-offs twice in the past four seasons.

Having failed to get to the promised land against Moroka Swallows and Cape Town All Stars in 2022, head coach Tlisane Motaung will hope to get the job done this time around.