Moruleng - Thato Lingwati led Jomo Cosmos on Wednesday, just
five days after his baby daughter died, as they drew 0-0 at Platinum Stars to
keep alive hopes of promotion to the Absa Premiership.
At the halfway stage of a double-round promotion/relegation
series, Black Leopards have four points, fellow second division side Cosmos two
and top-flight outfit Platinum one.
Each club meets the other two again between May 26 and June
2 and the side topping the final standings will compete for riches unrivalled
in African football during the 2018/2019 season.
Lingwati led by example in the closing stages at a stadium
in Moruleng as hosts Platinum laid siege in search of a match-winning goal.
"I was playing for her," said the 25-year-old
centre-back, battling to hold back tears as he referred to the death of his
one-month-old daughter last Friday.
"She meant the world to me and now she is gone. It is
not easy, but I know my little angel would have wanted me to carry on playing
"The emotional pain is enormous after my loss, but I am
going to soldier on for her sake and that of my team-mates and the coach."
Cosmos coach/owner Jomo Sono, 62, was a South African
football great, deprived of playing for his country during the 1970s and 1980s
because of apartheid-induced international isolation.
Instead, he and several other South African stars joined
American clubs with Sono naming his team after New York Cosmos, one of the sides
he played for.
"We should have wrapped this match up in the first
half, but if you do not take your chances you cannot win," he said,
lamenting a problem that afflicts many South African clubs.
But despite trailing Leopards by two points, Sono is confident
his side can win away to the club based in northeastern South Africa and secure
Premiership clubs fight for R29 million annually in league
and cup first prizes and receive a monthly R1.5 million grant.
The teams finishing second and third in the play-offs
compete in the far less financially attractive second division next season.