Thursday evening saw two rivals, University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) face off in the 3rd round fixture of the Varsity Football cup at UJ’s Auckland Park Bunting Campus Sports complex.
It was the first time the teams met since UJ’s 2-1 loss to TUT in the cup final last year. But it was a case of unfinished business as UJ sought to exact revenge against TUT.
The encounter showed true tests of character as both teams levelled it out on the football pitch. Each of the opponents kept their composure in a battle that made it almost difficult to pick a side. It was an encounter that was described by the UJ coach Mandla Zwane as one that “could go either way”.
As the two sides balanced off in the first half, the second half brought controversial turning points to the match. The most significant was a hand ball in the 69th minute that awarded a penalty to TUT which sparked mixed reactions.
“Actually, my captain said to me it hit his head, maybe they got it wrong,” said Zwane. None the less, the man of the match from TUT Keabetswe Mokwena said, “it was a given penalty.”
With penalty drama turning the tides of the match, the UJ team lost its composure giving TUT an opportunity to capitalise on the scattered confidence of the UJ team.
“We panicked a bit,” said Ziyaad Fredricks, an attacking winger for the UJ team.
The UJ Team, nevertheless, showed spirit after the penalty shock and created equalising opportunities but they failed to execute clinical finishing. It all came down to utilizing goal scoring opportunities, which UJ failed to do.
“My boys didn’t take their chances and they (TUT) took theirs,” said Zwane.
An 85fth minute tactical passing by the TUT Forwards shook the defensive stronghold of UJ and resulted in what clearly looked as the hope crushing goal.
Not long after the second goal, a foul against UJ in the TUT penalty box resulted in an 87th minute penalty that could have given UJ the opportunity to pull one goal back. But a save by the TUT keeper denied them the opportunity.
As UJ attempted to fight back in the last minutes, time was not on their side and the Match ended 2-0 in favour of TUT.
The 90-minute road to victory gave a nail biting experience to the TUT coach Bushy Moloi who showed some expressions of relief after the match.
“We were playing against UJ and it’s a Gauteng counterpart, they reached the finals last year and we don’t want to play them again in the finals, so the best way is to minus their points now,” Moloi said.
The UJ battle for supremacy over TUT shall be set for another time. At the moment, UJ looks forward to the 4th round fixture against The University Witwatersrand (WITS) on the 17th of August 2017.
With a record of two losses this season, pressure mounts on the UJ camp that is faced with the challenge to bounce back but “all is not lost and it’s back to the drawing board,” Zwane reassured. TOJ
Goal scorers TUT: M Mphahlele, T Lebitso
Man of the Match: Keabetswe Mokwena (TUT)
Samsung Best Shot: Mogau Mphahlele (courtesy of Varsity sports SA)
Photos and Videos courtesy of Gaby Ndongo.