SSU secure top eight spot

SuperSport United clinched their spot in the top eight with a 4-2 win over Polokwane City in an Absa Premiership encounter at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday.

A brace from Thuso Phala and a goal apiece from Bennett Chenene and Thabiso Nkoana sealed a fifth-place finish for the Tshwane outfit.

City's loss, coupled with a convincing win for Free State Stars over Moroka Swallows in a simultaneous fixture, saw them drop to 15th place on the log. They will consequently participate in the Premiership/National First Division Play-offs later this month.

Thabo Rakhale and Vukile Mngqibisa scored for Rise and Shine.

Mame Niang was included in United's starting XI by Cavin Johnson despite nursing an elbow injury. Thabo September and Thabiso Nkoana were also included from the onset for the hosts.

Meanwhile, Thabo Rakhale returned to the starting XI for the visitors while Jabulani Maluleke lined up against his former employers.

SuperSport United were in danger of finishing outside the top eight for the first time in 14 years. The Tshwane outfit last finished outside the top half in 2000, when they ended 10th.

Polokwane City were the better side in the opening stanza, but were punished for failing to take on of their chances as Thuso Phala handed the hosts the lead six minutes before the break.

Puleng Tlolane shot straight at Ronwen Willams before flashing a header attempt wide as Rise and Shine dominated the early exchanges.

Sibusiso Khumalo had United's first chance of the match, his powerful free-kick from the edge of the area just cleared Modiri Marumo's crossbar.

Rise and Shine continued to pile on the pressure, with skipper Thapelo Tshilo nodding wide before Thabo Rakhale squandered his volley attempt just past the half-hour mark.

United took the lead against the run of play in the 39th minute. A quickly taken free-kick was played out wide to Khumalo, who was in acres of space down the left flank.

The Matsatsantsa fullback cut inside before laying it on a platter for Phala, who prodded home from close range.

City came out guns blazing following the interval and found the equalizer six minutes into the second stanza.

Rakhale rounded Ronwen Williams before blasting the ball past two defenders on the line.

Nkoana restored United's lead in the 67th minute after being put through on goal by Chenene before the former Moroka Swallows man found the back of the net himself five minutes later.

The goal was Nkoana's first of the season, while it was Chenene's sixth of the campaign.

Mngqibisa pulled one back for the visitors from the penalty spot in the 81st minute, but the comeback was cut short by Phala, who grabbed his brace soon after to secure all three points for the hosts.

Free State Stars beat Moroka Swallows 3-0 in a simultaneous kick-off.

SuperSport United (1) 4 (Phala 39' 86' Nkoana 67' Chenene 72')

Polokwane City (0) 2 (Rakhale 51' Mngqibisa 81')

SuperSport United: Williams; Khumalo (Dean 46'), Gyimah, September, Moeketsi, Phala, Mkhabela, Chenene, Mokeke, Nkoana (Nel 85'), Niang (Ndlovu 84')

Polokwane City: Marumo; Molekwane, Tshilo, Mngqibisa, Lichaba, Sibande (Jembula 77'), Maluleke, Moyana (Majafa 79'), Rakhale, Kanyenda (Mncwango 73'), Tlolane