Cape Town – Tanzania’s Mbwana Samatta and Zimbabwe’s Marvellous Nakamba heaved huge sighs of relief when their Aston Villa side survived relegation from the lucrative English Premier League in the last match of the soccer season.
The duo featured in the last match, with Nakamba coming in as a second half substitute against West Ham United, which ended in the draw that Villa needed to have another run in the world’s richest football league.
The highly-rated Jack Grealish scored the all-important goal that delivered the point Aston Villa sought, and Nakamba and Mbwana will feature again next season - unless they change clubs.
There could be another Southern African footballer in the EPL next season if Kamohelo Mokotjo from South Africa and his Brantford team can overcome a 0-1 first leg deficit in their promotional playoff against Swansea City and then go on and win the final.
Zimbabwean footballers Tendai Darikwa (Nottingham Forrest) and Macauley Bonnie ((Charlton Athletic) missed out on promotion to the EPL; as did Angolan midfielder Jeremie Bela (Birmingham).
Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana and Kaizer Chiefs legend Lucas Radebe was over the moon as one of his former clubs, Leeds United, secured promotion back into the EPL.
Writing on Twitter, Radebe said: “After long 16yrs finally the wait is over our dreams have true bak in the premier league come on @LUFC.”
Radebe played for Leeds between 1994 and 2005, making over 250 appearances and playing a key role in taking the unfancied side to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League in the 2000-2001 seasons.
Radebe tasted the bitterness of relegation with Leeds and retired a year later.