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Absa Premiership, Soccer

Bidvest Wits end long wait for first PSL title

Bidvest Wits claimed a first ever Premier Soccer league (PSL) title in the club’s 96-year history on Wednesday as they defeated Polokwane City 2-0 at the Bidvest Stadium.

Wits are the 2016/17 PSL champions after the Absa Premiership match between Bidvest Wits and Polokwane City

That result, coupled with a surprise 2-2 draw for African champions Mamelodi Sundowns, leaves Wits with an unassailable four-point lead at the top of the table with just a single round of matches to play.

The title is as a fourth for coach Gavin Hunt after he grabbed three championships in a row at former side SuperSport United between 2008 and 2010, and ends the dominance of the ‘Big Three’ in South Africa — Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates — who have been champions each year since the last of those SuperSport wins.

Goals from English striker James Keene and veteran winger Daine Klate, adding a sixth league winners’ medal to his already impressive collection, sealed the three points for Wits, who will be delighted not to have taken the title race down to the final day on May 27.

A weary looking Sundowns rallied late to draw 2-2 at home to Maritzburg United to give up their title as Brian Onyango and Evans Rusike gave the visitors a 2-0 lead.

However, Sundowns netted twice in the final two minutes through Ivorian Yannick Zakri, but the draw was not enough to take their battle with Wits into the final game.

Cape Town City secured third place with a 1-0 victory over Lamontville Golden Arrows thanks to an own goal in the final minute from Musa Bilankulu.

The league’s top scorer Lebogang Manyama had earlier missed a penalty, while Golden Arrows goalkeeper Nkosi Gumede looked superhuman at times with some breathtaking saves.

City are now assured of third and qualification for the Caf Confederation Cup next season, but are now also just a point behind Sundowns and their Champions League dreams remain alive.

Kaizer Chiefs suffered another defeat when they went down to Platinum Stars, with Solomon Mathe and Enocent Mkhabela, on loan from Chiefs, getting the goals for Dikwena. Chiefs stay in fifth place and cannot finish any higher than fourth.

In the race for a top eight place, Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town played to a 0-0 draw, which keeps the latter in the driving seat to qualify for the MTN8 next season.

They lead Golden Arrows by a point, are two ahead of Platinum Stars and three in front of Pirates with a superior goal-difference.

Chippa United, with suspended coach Dan Malesela back on the bench, thumped SuperSport United 3-0 to move out of the relegation zone.

A hat-trick from Rhulani Manzini secured the three points, while SuperSport had Keagan Ritchie sent off, and he will now miss the Nedbank Cup semifinal between the same two teams on Saturday in East London.

Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars played to a 0-0 draw, but both of those sides remain in danger, while second-bottom Highlands Park and basement boys Baroka FC also ended goalless as both missed a major chance to take a step to safety.

 

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