24 year old Cameroonian Midfielder Awono Junior and his South African First Division side Stellenbosch FC have caused huge celebration on Sunday afternoon at the Idas Valley Sports Ground.
The boys of Steve Barker pulled a virgin draw against Maccabi FC to pick up a point on the day their closest title rival, Royal Eagles lost 1 nil to Ubuntu Cape Town.
Fawaaz Basadien’s goal against the Eagles meant Eagles couldn’t topple the Stellies making Junior Awono and mates champions of the first Division. As a football reward,the team will join the “big boys” in the land in the ABSA premiership next season.
Stellenbosch FC sealed the title with 56 points after recording 16 wins,8 draws and 6 defeats in 30 games this season.
Awono was involved in 29 of the 30 games in the run to the title and the above indicate the boys of Coach Barker were the form team among the 16 NFD teams and spent more than four months at the top of the league with an 11-point lead over the chasing pack at one stage. It is a wonderful time for the 3 year old club (formerly known as Vasco da Gama) and Coach Steve Barker who also took University of Pretoria to this heights 7 years ago.
In the 29 games played the box to box midfielder mostly deployed as a holding Midfielder provided 2 assists and scored a goal in 27 starts.
The promotion couldn’t have been possible without forward Rayners. As a striker now,the former defender, scored 19 goals this season finishing as the league’s top scorer 3 goals shy of the set by Phumelele Bhengu.
“The lads have achieved something very special. The entire squad played their part with their work ethic getting us home and into the PSL. Now for the big clubs that lie in wait. Cape Town City and us now against the rest of the country. That’s great for Cape Town football. We will celebrate now and then start planning for the road ahead.”
“A five-year plan completed in one year,” Edries Burton, the chief operating officer at Stellies told local media. “We wanted to keep the team in the league and build something special for the future. We had a small squad of 24 players and they bought into what we had in mind.”
Stellenbosch captain Jarrod Moroole said: “We knew we needed a result to end off on top and the point proved enough. It was one of our toughest games and we held our nerve to the end.”
“We are happy as a team for what we have achieved is really great,it’s not just winning the title that makes me happy but giving this wonderful fans of us what they deserve. Getting the way they supported us through out the season always made me told myself they deserve to support our club as an ABSA premiership side and that we have achieved. It was very difficult when I first came,many clubs didn’t have the same kind of trust Stellenbosch FC had in me and today I am champion after just a season,this is just amazing. We are enjoying the moments and we know it’s the reward of the efforts of everybody involved at Stellenbosch FC”. Junior Awono a former Renaissance of Ngoumou and YOSA of Bamenda player told kick442.com
Former captain of the Intermediate Lions of Cameroon,Awono missed just a game in the amazing run in his debut campaign out of Cameroon.
Despite the win for Ubuntu Cape Town,they got relegated to the third tier alongside Witbank Spurs after finishing in the bottom places while Royal Eagles finished second.
Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhadila finished in third place,with only goal difference putting them ahead of Ajax Cape Town. Eagles and Tshakuma Tsha will go into the end of season promotion-relegation playoffs.
Ajax was unfortunate to miss out on the playoffs as they won 2-0 on the last day of the season but Tsha had a superior goal difference over them.
Eagles and Tshakuma will face will the side that will finish second from bottom in the Premier Soccer League, to be decided on Saturday.
@AnguLesley on Twitter