Roses United have been promoted to the National First Division following a tension-filled 1-1 draw against Baroka FC that saw them finish top of Group A of the 2012 Vodacom League National play-offs at the old Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Friday, 6 July 2012.
In Sunday’s (8 July) Grand Finale to determine the 2012 Vodacom League champions, Free State’s Roses United will meet Milano United from the Western Cape, who also qualified for promotion after winning Group B.
Baroka, playing in front of a passionate home crowd, needed to win to overturn a two point disadvantage going into the match, but they fell behind to a 19th minute Patrick Ngidi goal, as Roses looked to snuff out any chance of blowing their golden opportunity.
Roses had a chance to further entrench their strong position early in the second half when Baroka goalkeeper, Veli Mothwa, felled Ngidi in the box. Mothwa redeemed himself by saving Ngidi’s spot-kick to keep Baroka’s hopes alive.
Buoyed on by the vociferous home support, Baroka poured forward in search of the two goals they needed but time and again they were repelled by the brilliance of Roses’ goalkeeper, William Mothokoa, who produced a number of outstanding saves.
The pressure eventually told eight minutes from time, when Archie Lekgele handled inside the box and Olaleng Shaku despatched the penalty past Mothokoa. A frantic ending saw a number of close shaves but Roses somehow managed to hold on until the final whistle.
Their overjoyed coach, former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper, John Tlale, paid tribute to his team’s resilience.
“Physically, it has been a very demanding week and my players were feeling fatigued in the second half, but they still pushed themselves to the limit and I couldn’t be more proud of them. We have achieved our objective, which was to qualify for the NFD, so there is no pressure for the final, but we will still go out there to win. We want to be national champions,” said Tlale.
“Well done to Roses United. It is clear that the two best teams in the tournament have earned promotion and are worthy finalists,” said SAFA’s Director of Competitions, Jeff Monnakgotla.
“We anticipate a feast of quality football in Sunday’s final as a fitting conclusion to this exciting event.”
Vodacom Regional Marketing Manager in Limpopo, Ishmael Hlomane said, “We are delighted with the way the tournament has progressed to date, with encouraging numbers of supporters being treated to some excellent football. The efficient organisation has enabled the smooth running of the competition and we look forward to a fantastic grand finale come Sunday.”
In the other Group A match, Vardos FC (Gauteng) beat Morester Jeug (N. Cape) by six goals to one (6-1).
The final between Roses United and Milano United will be played on Sunday afternoon at the Seshego Stadium in Polokwane.
Kickoff is at 15h00 and the match will be broadcast live on SABC 1.