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Chippa avoid relegation after goalless draw, Bidvest Wits win 2016/17 ABSA Premiership

BY MARC JACOBSON - MAY 29, 2017
Chippa avoid relegation after goalless draw, Bidvest Wits win 2016/17 ABSA Premiership

Chippa United managed to avoid PSL relegation after their goalless draw against Free State Stars in the final round of the 2016/17 season at Goble Park Stadium in Bethlehem on Saturday.

Both sides have been languishing in the relegation red zone for some weeks prior, and due to this, both teams came out determined to rack-up some amount of points in their conclusive encounter.

The draw, most often leaving no side satisfied in all sporting codes, certainly left a sense of relief for both clubs, after each racked up a point to secure third and fourth-last positions on the ABSA Premiership respectively.

The Chilli Boys ended the league 13th with 28 points, while the Stars ended 14th, also with 28 points, but a less goals’ difference of -11 to Chippa’s -5. The relegated teams were Baroka FC (28 points) and Highlands Park (27 points) on 15th and 16th positions respectively.

Chippa were fortunate enough and got the better end of poor execution on Free State’s part, as numerous goal opportunities were prevented by a determined Chilli Boys’ defence.

Keeper, Daniel Akpeyi, was able to safely hang onto Free State’s first free-kick attempt at goal on just the 17th minute, while just seconds later, was able to thwart another attempted shot at goal by the Stars.

Around the 30th minute and soon into the second half, another two shot-attempts went wide respectively. On about the 70th minute, the Stars were unable to a convert a corner into a goal, when an attempted header failed to direct.

The game came as a goalless draw, and more thankfully so for Chippa, who were much on the receiving end on the day, but has their 3-0 win over SuperSport United the week before to thank in their accomplished season finish.

Coach Dan Malesela, who was placed on ‘special leave’ a few weeks ago due to underperforming results before being reappointed for the club’s last two matches, showed his relief in Chippa’s secured finish.

Thankfully so for the Chilli Boys, on Malesela’s return, the club achieved that win over SuperSport after a 13-match PSL winless drought.

"It was a high-pressure game from everybody and for sure you could tell from both sides they didn't want to take any silly chances and also from our side," Malesela told KickOff.

"But it goes with the nature of the game and you can't blame anybody. We knew that the draw would be enough but we just didn't want to open that much to say 'the draw is okay' but we knew it would be enough.

"So it's fine and it's what we wanted. We got the status so we're safe. Over and above that, I'm very pleased."

Malesela also expressed how he wants his side to up their defence ahead of next season, and for now in their off-season, will have much-needed time to reassess the squad.

“This gives us another chance to relook at things and see where we can fix, where we need to strengthen the team, where we went wrong and what we need to fix.”

"But the biggest thing for us is to have a stronger defence. I think we really need to beef up our defence and going forward we will not struggle that much but we need to get very, very good defenders," Malesela added.

Meanwhile, on the upper end of the table, Bidvest Wits won the 2016/17 ABSA Premiership with 60 table points, three above the second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns.

Cape Town City’s Lebogang Manyama, won the PSL’s golden boot with a season tallied 13 goals. Chippa United’s Rhulani Manzini, racked up a four-way fourth total amount of goals of eight goals.