Golden Arrows were crowned Champions of the National First Division and will be playing in the Premier Soccer League next season. Arrows were promoted to the PSL after drawing 1-1 against Cape Town All Stars.
The team from Kwazulu-Natal went into the fixture against CT All Stars needing just a point to clinch the NFD title. But things did not go to plan for Arrows as All Stars took an early lead via their top goalscorer, Amigo Memela. In the 10th minute the midfielder latched onto a pass and fired the ball in the back of the net. Memela looked threatening all afternoon and gave the Arrows defence a torrid time.
But Arrows kept on attacking in search of the leveller and the all important goal eventually came. Substitute Prince Nxumalo came off the bench and scored the equalising goal in the 85th minute. Arrows were not satisfied with the point and pushed for the winning goal but All Stars managed to hold out for the draw. The result meant that Golden Arrows were the champions of the NFD.
The team known as Abafana Bes’thende were relegated from the PSL last season with Shaun Bartlett as their coach. Despite this, Arrows kept their faith in Bartlett by retaining his services for their NFD campaign. Bartlett repaid the faith shown in him by taking Arrows straight back to PSL. Abafana Bes’thende were dominant throughout the NFD season and occupied the top position for most of the campaign.
Also crucial to their success was the shrewd signing of Mabhuti Khenyeza in the January transfer window. Khenyeza played an important role in Abafana Bes’thende’s fight for promotion. The former Black Aces striker gave the Arrows team some much needed experience and scored important goals for the team. The veteran striker has shown that he still has something left in the tank.
The league champions may already be decided but the play-off positions are still up for grabs, with 4 teams still in contention. The teams that finish in 2nd and 3rd position in the NFD, will take part in a 3 team play-off that also includes the team that finishes 2nd last on the PSL log. The team that obtains the most points in the play-offs will also be promoted to the PSL. Jomo Cosmos, Black Leopards, Thanda Royal Zulu and CT All Stars, still have a chance of making the two play-off positions. CT All Stars will host Jomo Cosmos and will have to beat Jomo Sono’s side to have any chance of ending in the top 3. Leopards will be up against African Warriors and Thanda will face the already relegated Garankuwa United. With one game remaining in the NFD, we are set for a thrilling finish to the season this weekend, as these teams will go all out to get to the play-offs.