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Makhulong Stadium
15/06/2016 15:00

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Highlands Park promoted to South African top flight PSL for first time in 24 years

Posted: 15 June 2016 Time: 16:54

Highlands Park have returned to the top tier of South African club football for the first time in 24 years after winning the PSL Promotion Playoffs.

Allan Freese’s side beat Mbombela United 2-0 at Makhulong Stadium on Wednesday afternoon thanks to a Peter Shalulile brace, his first goal coming on 13 minutes and the clincher wrapping up promotion in the 82nd.

Shalulile was gifted the opener by United goalkeeper Thato Xaba, whose attempted clearance fell at the feet of the striker, who passed the ball into an empty net.

The Namibia international finished the job eight minutes from time as he weaved his way into the penalty area before slotting the ball past Xaba to ignite wild celebrations in Tembisa.

The victory made it three wins from three matches in the three-team playoffs – an unassailable position for their opponents as well as University of Pretoria, who are relegated to the First Division.

Highlands finished second in the regular NFD season, one point behind champions Baroka FC.

READ: Highlands Park's PSL incentive

TEAMS

Highlands Park: Kapini, Leonard, Christian, Isaacs, Mphele, Tshabalala (Kalake 83'), Khwela, Mothobi, Garcia (Matloga 62'), Boke (Mathibe 72'), Shalulile

Mbombela United: Xaba, Shongwe, Dhlandhla (Nkosi 87'), Mabuza, Maphosa, Mnguni (Sekome 65'), Mphahleni, Maliba, Jantjie, Maboe (Thomo 57'), Masuku

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Promotion Playoffs standings

Highlands Park             Pld 3  GD  6   Pts 9
Mbombela United          Pld 3  GD -4   Pts 3
University of Pretoria     Pld 2  GD -2   Pts 0

Fixtures remaining

18/6 Mbombela vs AmaTuks 15h00
22/6 AmaTuks vs Highlands 15h00

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The 2016/17 Absa Premiership season will be Highlands’ second professional top-flight spell since the NSL was formed in 1985. The last time a club called Highlands Park played in the top tier was in 1992.

The Lions of the North, who were a dominant force in the whites-only NFL between 1959 and 1977 (eight league titles), also won the whites-and-blacks NPSL title in 1980.

That was their last league title before they sold their status to Jomo Sono in 1982, who formed Dion Cosmos, which became Jomo Cosmos in 1984.

The club that remained as Highlands Park had participated in the lower leagues from 1982 until 1991, when they were promoted to the NSL and finished ninth.

However, after PE Blackpool were relegated in 1991 the club bought the Highlands Park franchise and played under that name in 1992, when they narrowly avoided relegation, finishing 18th out of 22 teams.

However, after yet another ownership change in 1993 – this time playing under the name of Welkom Eagles – they were eventually relegated again in disgrace after winning just one out of 38 matches that season.

That was until 2001, when the lower-league club still named Highlands Park merged with Silver Stars to form HP Silver Stars, which was then renamed Platinum Stars in 2008 when Royal Bafokeng Sports bought full ownership.

The old Highlands Park sector that merged with Silver Stars in 2001 broke away from Platinum Stars before the 2008 buyout and dropped back into the lower leagues, and they have now worked their way back up into the Premiership.

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