With last season’s semi-final heartbreak fresh in the memory, the Central University of Technology (CUT) edged out the University of Johannesburg (UJ) 1-0 at the CUT Stadium in Bloemfontein.
This season’s Varsity Football opener started with the teams evenly poised, with early signs of a potentially electric midfield battle. As soon as the visitors settled, it became clear that this would be a challenging contest. UJ’s Shaune Mogaila nearly injured himself when he wormed into the home side’s box.
On the other side, Taole Rakgomo came close to opening the scoring, but was instead flagged offside. Sizwe Ngoma’s poor first touch failed him when the ball fell to his feet, much to the crowd’s dismay. Just before the teams went for a break, UJ captain Dane Fortuin’s last-ditch tackle kept the scores level as Mpho Molwatse was about to pull the trigger.
Seven minutes into the second stanza, Wade Rowe went into the referee’s book for his crunching tackle on Molwatse. Soon after, Ngoma found himself unmarked and accurately laid the ball in Keitumetse Mabathoana’s path, who tamely passed the ball into Damaine van der Walt’s gloves.
It was left to Ntsane’s outstretched arm to prevent CUT from going a goal down when Mogaila teed up Pogiso Mabote, whose header was as accurate as they come. Sello Mokhele gave the now expectant crowd something to shout about when he unleashed a powerful shot from range, which was palmed away by Van der Walt.
CUT took the lead through Molwatse’s deflected shot in the 66th minute. Tsietsi Ramosedi nearly made it two when he found himself unmarked at the near post, but pressure from UJ’s defence sent his shot wide. Hayden Slava joined Rowe in the book for a high boot challenge on Mabathoana. Sello Mokhele sent the the resultant free kick over the bar.
UJ’s attempts to find an equaliser were constantly mopped up by a disciplined defensive line. Ntsane left his most important save for the 92nd minute as CUT started the season with a tough win over their conquerors from last season.
Samsung Best Shot: Ntsane Kabi (CUT)
FNB Man of the Match: Mpho Molwatse (CUT)
Goals: Mpho Molwatse
Central University of Technology: Ntsane Kabi(gk), Neo Sebudi, Sello Mokhele, Morena Lehloa (c), Wesley Ledibane, Katleho Molakeng, Sello Monokoane, Mpho Molwatse, Sizwe Ngoma, Keitumetse Mabathoana, Rakgomo Taole.
Subs: Tshiya Sikisi, Teboho Molehe, Lebohang Pitlele, Thato Mphulenyane, Sello Mokhathi, Tsietsi Ramosedi, Gomolemo Rampai.
University of Johannesburg: Damaine van der Walt (gk), Hayden Slava, Kenneth Langa, Dane Fortuin (c), Given Msimango, Sthembiso Manana, Shaune Mogaila, Wade Rowe, Pogiso Mabote, Tebogo Mandyu, Welcome Masemola.
Subs: Alan Mabuza, Mduduzi Manyama, Manqoba Luvuno, Simphiwe Maphanga, Potoko Mametja, Karabo Malete, Ziyaad Fredericks.
By Sam Styrax