Durban - Chippa United coach Mark Harrison hailed the “championship form” his team has shown in recent weeks after they completed an improbable recovery to escape automatic Absa Premiership relegation with victory over AmaZulu in Durban on Saturday.
A pair of penalties by second-half substitute Brent Carelse helped the Cape side fight from a goal down to topple Usuthu 2-1 on the final day of regular season action.
The result, coupled with Ajax Cape Town beating Golden Arrows 3-0 and Black Leopards losing 3-2 to Free State Stars, meant that the Chilli Boys ended their maiden top-flight campaign in 15th place, and head into the promotion/relegation playoffs.
“Six games ago we were dead and buried,” Harrison said after the game.
“Everyone was writing this club off, but now we’re still alive and we’ll take the play-offs.
“We would love to have leap-frogged over Ajax on the day, but obviously it didn’t happen.”
Harrison only took charge of the team in April following the axing of the club’s fifth coach in the same season, after a torrid campaign in which they had managed just three wins in 24 games that left them propping up the league standings.
“We’ve done everything we could do,” he said. “We’ve played six games, won three and drew three and I don’t think you can ask for more…that’s championship form, two points a game and (Kaizer) Chiefs in the end only won the title with 60 points maximum.
“So we’ve done all we can ask and in the end that’s only enough to take us to the play-offs.”
Their opposition for the play-offs will be decided later on Sunday when the National First Division (NFD) will be concluded.
The three-team competition will also involve the second and third team finishers from the second tier of South African football.
“It was massive winning this game because you wouldn’t have wanted to have lost and gone into the play-offs as it would have been a downer,” Englishman Harrison added.
“So it’s good to keep the momentum.
“And with the confidence and the character in that squad, we’ve got every chance of staying in the PSL now.”
AmaZulu’s Craig Rosslee was relieved that their safety had already been secured in the league.
The Durbanites had taken the lead as early as the fourth minute at the Moses Mabhida Stadium thanks to a Bongani Ndulula strike, before man-of-the-match Carelse’s second-half intervention.
The result meant they ended 12th this season and the coach said he was disappointed to end the season with a defeat.
“End to the season, the job was done and unfortunately you could see the players performed in that manner.
“Thank goodness we didn’t play like this in the last couple of games prior to this one or it would have been disastrous.”