But those associated with AmaTuks won’t mind how they got here, focusing their energy on contesting the play-offs against clubs that will finish second and third in the first division.
Legendary striker Les Grobler, part of the Highlands Park technical team, was in the stands to monitor AmaTuks as his side look set to finish second in the NFD and start the play-offs campaign on Wednesday.
AmaTuks, who prayed on the centre-line where they were joined by some Arrows players at fulltime, will now start planning for the play-offs which they start on Sunday against the club that will finish third.
The man who gave AmaTuks the kiss of life, Shaun Bartlett, didn’t celebrate that much when the match ended, gingerly walking to the bench of the side that’s campaigning in the first division because of him. It’s a feat he looks to repeat with AmaTuks.
Bartlett stood in his technical area throughout, in only a T-shirt on a chilly Pretoria afternoon where cold was the least of his worries with AmaTuks starring at relegation but had their fate in their hands.
That’s part of the reason why Bartlett didn’t exhibit any ill-feeling towards Arrows, even sharing a laugh with coach Clinton Larsen just before the match started.
When it kicked off, Bartlett folded his arms when his side were in control, put his hands on his waist when they lost the ball and when they narrowly missed, bowed and held his knees.
The stadium was so quiet, with a handful of AmaTuks fans singing, that you could hear an occasional “f**k” that Bartlett shouted in disappointment.
The Tuks fans took it up a notch when Vuyisile Ntombayithethi headed them into the lead through Getaneh Kebede’s free-kick.
But the celebrations weren’t over the top because they knew they still had a lot to do in a match that Abafana Bes’thende dominated.
What the hosts did right was take the small chances they were given – like when Kebede took a free-kick at an awkward angle on the left flank.
The Ethiopian forward somehow managed to squeeze the ball past the hands of Arrows’ goalkeeper Maxmilian Mbaeva, who stood bemused as the ball trickled into the net.
Bartlett didn’t even smile as he left for the half-time pep-talk, issuing stern words to Nemukondeni, who failed to impose himself u front. Bartlett returned wearing a jacket but still didn’t sit down.
Even though Gladwin Shitolo scored towards the end, AmaTuks did enough to avoid automatic relegation and live to fight another day.
University of Pretoria (2)2
Ntombayithethi 29, Kebede 43
Golden Arrows (0)1
– The Sunday Independent
Original source: AmaTuks blunt Arrows to fight another day