2017 ABC Motsepe League Champions, Uthongathi received a heroes’ welcome from their fans when they arrived home in Tongaat earlier today (Monday, 12 June 2017).
The KwaZulu Natal side also had a chance to parade their trophy around town.
They defeated Super Eagles of Free State 1-0 in a tightly contested final of the ABC Motsepe League National Play-Offs, which came to an end on Sunday, 11 June in East London.
Uthongathi’s road to being crowned champions proved that hard work triumphed over opinions of bookmakers and pundits as they went into the tournament as underdogs.
Apart from going on to lift the title, they also produced a Player of the Tournament in 19-year-old Celimpilo Ngema, who was also named Young Player of the Tournament.
“We knew what we wanted here and we had been preparing hard for it. We knew that we had good players who were ready to represent their province and go to the NFD. Another strong motivation was that getting promotion would make out players professionals and they really wanted to achieve that,” said Ronnie Gabriels, Uthongathi head coach.
For a team that is only three years old, Uthongathi is not about to rush to get to the PSL.
They spent one season in the SAB Regional League and two in the ABC Motsepe League – now Uthongathi are giving themselves the next season to learn how things work in the second tier of South African football.
“We will have to understand how everything is done there. Now we will travel far to play matches, and that will test us. We will face teams with players who have PSL experience as well as teams with good coaches. So for us, the first season will be to understand the competition in the league, keep our status there but we will do the best we can to compete,” added Gabriels.
“Only in the second season will we start thinking about winning the NFD or getting into the play-offs because we would be knowing how things work. Having said that, if an opportunity to gain promotion presents itself, we will not let it slip by.”
Uthongathi won one million rand for being crowned national champions.