Amabhubesi were held to a goalless draw at the Mpumalanga Stadium by Maritzburg United, a result that saw the home team end on 33 points, level with Bloemfontein Celtic, but stuck in the dreaded playoff place thanks to an inferior goal difference.
Thanda came into the game knowing that only victory against Maritzburg would spare them the potentially perilous fate of facing off against three national first division sides with a place in the Absa Premiership on the line, but they were unable to break down a resilient Team of Choice defence.
United did enough to ensure that they will be playing top flight football next season, though the future of coach Gordon Igesund is uncertain after such an inconsistent campaign.
Both sides set out to play an attacking game but it was Thanda, who needed all three points, that dictated play for the most part. However, Michael Babale in the Maritzburg goal was well protected by the defenders in front of him.
Amabhubesi pushed hard for the breakthrough, spurred on by the news that Celtic were being soundly beaten by Free State Stars, but when the final whistle sounded they had still not breached their opponents’ goal.
Thanda Royal Zulu will join FC Cape Town, Mpumalanga Black Aces and either Jomo Cosmos or Carara Kicks in the mini-tournament that forms the play-offs, with the winner earning a place in the 2009/10 Absa Premiership.