Baroka retain top flight status

Baroka FC have retained their top-flight status and will play in next season’s Absa Premiership after a 1-1 draw with Black Leopards at the Thohoyandou Stadium in Limpopo on Saturday afternoon.

The result saw Bakgaga win the PSL Promotion Playoff competition by three clear points from Lidoda Duvha, who needed a two-goal victory to leapfrog to the top of the standings.

Leopards threatened early on and nearly claimed the lead in the sixth minute, with Mwape Musonda shooting on target direct from a free kick only to see goalkeeper Tshinuna Avhashoni tip the ball over the crossbar.

Baroka gradually found their footing in the game and by the half hour mark they were dominating proceedings and it seemed only a matter of time until they broke the deadlock.

Their goal duly arrived in the 34th minute, with excellent play from Richard Matloga creating a move which saw him power a shot on target from a tight angle - Rotshidzwa Muleka saved the attempt, but Victor Letsoalo arrived to sweep home the rebound.

Four minutes later it was almost 2-0 to Bakgaga, with a loose ball in the penalty area fired toward goal by Jose Garcia. The Baroka man must have thought he had scored as soon as he made contact with the ball, but he was denied by a brilliant reaction save from Muleka.

Letsoalo turned from hero to villain early in the second half when he had a late challenge on Jean Munganga, picked up his second yellow card and was sent off, leaving Baroka at a man’s disadvantage. Leopards dialled up the pressure against their 10-man opponents and on 65 minutes they were awarded a penalty when Matome Kgoetyane clumsily fell in his own 18-yard area and tripped up Lebogang Mabotja. Leonard Ntshangase converted the spot kick to make it 1-1.

With the chance of a miraculous turnaround on the cards, Lidoda Duvha began throwing men forward with almost reckless abandon and they were lucky Baroka didn’t find a second goal with several counter attacks in the latter stages of the game.

In the end a 1-1 draw was probably a fair reflection of the match, and Baroka were certainly worthy winners of the Playoffs after going four matches unbeaten against Leopards and Stellenbosch FC.