NWU’s Lindani Nkabinde has been confirmed as the FNB Player of the Tournament on top of winning the Varsity Football 2019 title.
As if to seal his status as the tournament’s best player, Nkabinde decided the final by poking home the winner against TUT to end NWU’s seven-year wait for the title.
The Noble Boys’ jersey number 6 won his top-three nomination after all the coaches in this year’s tournament gave their insight. The voting was then opened to the public using Varsity Sports’ social media channels and Nkabinde edged clear of losing finalist Thabiso Lebitso of TUT and UP-Tuks vice-captain Katlego Motlhatsang.
When NWU supporters and players look back on their maiden Varsity Football title, then (apart from his decisive strike in the final) Nkabinde’s long-range cracker to break UWC hearts during the semi-finals will be looked upon as the key ‘moment of brilliance’ of their season.
It was perhaps apt that ‘Djemba-Djemba’ came to the fore during his second season of Varsity Football. That is because it was his last chance to claim a winner’s medal as he turns 25 in October.
The second year Sports Science student has been the fulcrum for the Noble Boys midfield (starting eight of their nine matches) and shown maturity throughout the season. No better was this illustrated than when he missed a penalty against UJ in Round 5, but then continued to deliver a man of the match performance (as he did in final) and an excellent assist for Mandisi Gadla to score the match winner.
Nkabinde wasn’t alone in claiming honours in the aftermath of Thursday evening’s final. That said, Sikhumbuzo Ncube (TUT) and Jaydan Petersen (UWC) would happily have traded the feeling Nkabinde and his NWU teammates are having for the individual awards they have won.
Sikhumbuzo Ncube is this year’s Debonairs Pizza Golden Glove winner as the best goalkeeper of the tournament. The 22-year-old conceded only eight goals throughout the 10 weeks and, more than that, was a significant factor in TUT reaching another final.
Ncube, a second year Coaching and Officiating student, produced an attention-grabbing performance almost on a weekly basis this season as six Debonairs Pizza Real Deal Save of the Match awards proves. His three penalty saves during the semi-final shootout against UP-Tuks will live long in the memory
Jaydan Petersen, meanwhile, wasn’t as prolific when it comes to post-match awards (he didn’t claim any) but the UWC attacker claims the MTN Golden Boot award for this season. Petersen, a fourth year LLB student, buried four goals during the tournament – a tally which no other player could match.
The 23-year-old took a few weeks to find his stride, mirroring his UWC team, but then scored in three consecutive games (two against UKZN and one apiece against TUT and champions NWU) which kick-started their run to the semi-final which ended in heartbreak.