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PSL RETURNEES: Thanda Royal Zulu players, flanked by PSL acting CEO Mato Madlala, celebrate their arrival in the PSL in style with a new trophy. Photo by Jabulani Langa  ~ 

IT IS now official!

Thanda Royal Zulu were officially crowned National First Division (NFD) champions and presented with a brand new trophy by PSL acting chief executive Mato Madlala yesterday.

And Amabhubesi did it in style by coming back from a goal down to beat their KwaZulu-Natal rivals Real Kings United 2-1 at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Durban in the last match of the season.

Not only could Thanda celebrate becoming champions but they also broke the record for the number of points collected in an NFD campaign.

They collected 62 points and smashed the 60-point record set by Baroka FC last season.

Khotso Malope, on loan from Kaizer Chiefs, was once again instrumental in Thanda’s victory, scoring the winning goal after leading goal-scorer Mhlengi Cele got them back into the match.

Cele scored his 19th goal of the season with a header that launched the champions’ comeback.

Neverdie Malhubela broke the deadlock in the first half with a thunder strike that left Xolani Ngcobo with no chance.

But the second half belonged to the champions and they made use of their ball possession with the two quick goals.

Amabhubesi CEO Sifiso “Jomo” Biyela said the record was on their mind going into this match.

Said Biyela: “The plan from the beginning was to win this game. We wanted to break that record after securing the league title weeks ago. We’re happy it happened.”

Biyela dismissed reports that the club would be put up for sale should they fail to secure a sponsor.

He claims sponsors are lining up and would be revealed in due course.

Thanda had to celebrate their big day without Roger Sikhakhane, who was hospitalised with an undisclosed ailment.

An excited Thanda chairman Pierre Delvaux said they would engage different municipalities for sponsorship so they can keep the team in Richards Bay, KZN.

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