Although they beat Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 on Sunday, the Limpopo side – who were playing without their coach Sheppard Murape who was fired yesterday – still ended up in 15th place thanks to Thanda Royal Zulu’s 1-0 win over Jomo Cosmos.
Going into the final minute of the season, Thanda were 0-0 with Cosmos meaning that one more goal by Leopards would have seen the two teams tied on level points, with the same goal difference but Leopards superior on goals scored. But Thanda scored in extra time to win 1-0.
But all is not lost for the Thohoyandou-based side as they now go into the play offs and on current form should be too strong for the teams from the Mvela league.
Chiefs started the game brightly, but were handed a harsh decision in the 17th minute when young star keeper Itumeleng Khune was adjudged to have handled the ball outside the box, and red-carded.
With Amakhosi down to ten men, Leopards found motivation, and were all over Chiefs and dominated the game.
It was a game of missed chances, as both sides had their fair share of goal-scoring opportunities, but Leopards deservedly took the lead on the stroke of halftime when David Makgale scored from a Mulondo Sikhwivhilu cross.
It proved an tense and entertaining affair in the second half as news kept on filtering through from the Thanda/Cosmos game, but at the final whistle it was clear to the Leopards players and staff that their status in the Absa Premiership now depends on a successful run in the play-offs.