Varsity soccer hots up

ALL TO PLAY FOR: Baliwe Gerald Moyakhe of Wits and Jackson Phuti Matlala of UL during the Varsity Sports Football match between Wits and UL at Wits Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: Varsity Sports.

Wits secure semi-final spot after defeating UL

Wits University secured a spot in the final four when they earned a 2-0 victory over struggling University of Limpopo, UL, in Johannesburg on August 30.

The sixth round of Varsity Football action got underway at the Wits Stadium in Johannesburg, when second-placed Wits welcomed bottom of the log, the University of Limpopo.

The encounter was an important one for both sides, as Wits looked to solidify their chance of a shot in gaining a semi-final spot, whilst the University of Limpopo were going in search of an upset and their first win in their debut season of Varsity Football.

The first half saw the Witsies start like a house on fire, asking all sorts of questions of the Limpopo defence, who stood firm in the early exchanges. Baliwe Moyakhe did come very close to getting the opener for Wits when he received a pass from the right-hand side but his shot from close range was one he would have loved to forget very quickly as it sailed over crossbar with only the keeper to beat.

Opportunities continued to fall the home side’s way, with Limpopo often looking to counter-attack. This did not work out well for the visitors, as Wits’ midfield maestro Mahle Mtabane collected in the box and nudged into the back of the net to send the hosts 1-0 up midway through the half. The game continued in a similar vain, with Wits enjoying much of possession but Limpopo did slowly find their feet but the score remained the same at the break, with the Witsies leading 1-0.

The second half was slightly different, with Limpopo coming out the starting blocks first, putting Wits on the backfoot but the likes of Kal Laing and Lerotholi Manala stood firm to keep the score 1-0. The visitors continued to pose a threat but they were quickly neutralised on more than one occasion. A goal did come later on in the half when the referee awarded Wits a penalty after it was judged that a Limpopo player had handled the ball in the box.

Sandile Mbatha stepped up and sent UL shot-stopper Ernest Ramalefo the wrong way to double his side’s lead. Whilst Limpopo remained physical in the battles for the remainder of the match, in the end it was Wits who won the game 2-0, almost certainly securing themselves a spot in the semi-final with a game to spare.

Tuks semi-final hopes alive after sinking NWU

The University of Pretoria scored in the opening minute and with the last touch of their Varsity Football match to beat the North West University 2-0 at the Tuks Stadium on Thursday evening.

The defending champions pounced on an early opportunity as goalkeeper Giovanni Idi cleared the ball upfield before a cross kick found Jurgen Booysen, who fired in an absolute cracker of a goal to take the lead in the first minute.

NWU may have had the lion’s share of possession in the first half but it was UP-Tuks that continued to take shots at goal while shutting out the men from the North West on defence with the Stripe Generation taking their lead into the break.

The second half was much of the same as both teams ran hard but could not convert although the home team’s attempts were closer to the target. NWU struggled to emulate their early season form and their forwards rarely bothered Idi as he scooped up his fourth straight Debonairs Real Deal Save of the season.

It would take another moment of brilliance by UP-Tuks to secure their victory as Nhlanhla Mabaso found the back of the net with the last kick of the match to hand his charges a well-constructed 2-0 win.

UP-Tuks’ destiny is now in their hands as a win or draw against the University of the Western Cape will be enough to see them through to the semi-finals and a chance at defending their title.

UP-Tuks travel to UWC in the final round of Varsity Football and will face their Cape counterparts at the UWC Sports Stadium on September 6. Kick-off is at 4pm.

UKZN earn another point, drawing against TUT

University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) picked another point in Durban, in a brilliant match against Tshwane of University of Technology on Thursday night.

It was another thriller game down in Durban when the mean Red Machine of Tshwane visited the season’s new boys UKZN.

University of KZN opened the account when Ziyanda Ndlovu was too strong and brushed off a TUT defender to head home in the opener.

Top marksman Lebogang Phetlhu then scored the equaliser after being closely marked by the home side from the beginning of the game till half-time. Just before half-time, UKZN went up again through a headed goal by the USSA champions’ talisman Nqubeko Dlamini, 2-1.

TUT came back from half-time with a full blast and scored the equalising second goal in the 55th minute when Godfrey Mahlala drilled in a super shot straight down the middle.

That was to be the result. Both defences were playing for their lives with super stops by TUT goalkeeper Skhumbuzo Ncube and UKZN defender Siphamandla Sosibo.

In another thrilling match in Durban, both teams claimed a point each.

End of the road for UWC as they play to a 1-1 draw at home

Former champions UWC couldn’t beat UJ to keep their semi-final hopes alive, as they drew 1-1 in Bellville on Thursday night.

The battle for a top-four finish in Bellville started like a house on fire, both sides looking for that goal to settle the game. The home side had a sniff at goal with a snap-shot from Emmanuel Sebareme but Alan Mabuza was alert to parry the ball for a corner. Both sides played open football and UJ should have taken the lead but the upright saved the home side with Renaldo Leaner well beaten from a volley by Keitumetse Mabothoana.

The tempo of the game was high with both sides showing that they came to play with UJ having the upper hand with Mogaila the orchestrator. Nkosinathi Sibiya took a shot that had a goal written all over it but Leaner was on guard again to make a save. The log leaders’ persistent pressure finally paid off when Mabothoana headed home in the 37th minute as UJ ended the first half on a high.

The second half started with the same tempo and the home side had the ball in the back of the net but it was disallowed for an offside. The home crowd was behind their boys, singing their lungs out and that seemed to boost the boys on the field of play.

HEADING TOWARDS SEMI’S: Halalisani Ngomane of UL and Ndzalama Bradley Mongwe of Wits during the Varsity Sports Football match.
Photo: Varsity Sports.

Phiwokuhle Mphalala had the opportunity to make it level but his shot went over the bar. Leaner was the busiest out of the two goalkeepers making great one on one saves to keep his side in the game. With the top four finish slowly fading away Jayden Peterson grabbed the equaliser for the home side in the 66th minute.

Time was against the home side as they threw everything at the visitors and they were bound to be caught on the counter but UJ were not clinical in front of goal. UWC goalkeeper Leaner was the man who stood between UJ and a win with his splendid saves.

The game ended in a one-all draw and that means UWC’s dream of making the top four is shattered.

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  AUTHOR
Annette van Schalkwyk

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