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Sky Battalion marches into Premier League



Luciah Phahla


Ambitious Sky Battalion have clinched a place in the Vodacom Premier League with two games to spare.

The Co-operative College side secured their place in the big time after a 2-1 win over Majantja last Saturday coupled with second-placed Van Rooyen United’s 1-0 loss to Mangau on Sunday.

The vicyory left Sky Battalion with an unassailable six-point lead at the top of the Vodacom A-Division southern stream.

The victory over Majantja in Mohale’s Hoek lifted Sky Battalion to 37 points from 16 matches.

Van Rooyen, on the other hand, remained stuck on 31 points and, because they have played 17 games, cannot overtake Sky Battalion.

It is a deserved success for the upstart college club; they have been the class of the 10-team stream since the start of the season and also led the standings at the halfway stage.

Mothobi Molebatsi’s charges have won 12 of their 16 games, losing just once, and in the end Van Rooyen simply could not keep up with their pace.

Despite winning promotion, Sky Battalion general manager Mahlake Thulane said the club still has a point to prove against Manonyane and Melele in their final two games.

Melele, for one, inflicted Sky Battalion’s solitary defeat this season.

“We want to prove a point,” Thulane stated.

“Manonyane and Melele are big clubs. Melele beat us in the first round and we drew against Manonyane, so we have something to prove against those two teams that we are also a good team. We want to challenge Manonyane,” he said.

In a sit-down with thepost on Tuesday, Thulane also admitted the club’s promotion was a surprise.

This was the side’s first campaign in the First Division and the initial plan was to build the team and remain in the league for at least another season.

However, Thulane said Molebatsi and his players were determined to compete for higher rewards.

“When we started in the A-Division we wanted to build the team and compete next season, but the coach and the players had a winning spirit and they said they wanted to win every game.

“A lot of people, even our previous coach, used to tell us that we had the potential to play in the premier league,” Thulane said.

Promotion culminates a fairy-tale ride for the club owned by Chinese businessmen, Hua Gao, who is also known as Messi.

Founded as Super Kingdom, the team was campaigning in the Third Division just three years ago. But, after purchasing the First Division status of Mohale’s Hoek outfit Sky Battalion last August, the club will be facing the likes of Lioli, Bantu and Matlama next season.

Thulane said he is aware the stakes are higher in the premiership.

He said he does not want Sky Battalion to return to the A-Division after just one season.

Plans are already in motion to ensure the club stays in the Vodacom Premier League, he said.

Among those plans is to strengthen the squad and to hire professionals in areas such as physiotherapy.

“We will reinforce all departments, from management to players, because the premier league is quite different,” Thulane said.

“We are looking to get qualified people. We will also get a goalkeeper coach and strengthen the club. We believe the players we have can play, but the premier league needs strong players. We will also get some new players,” he said.


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