The North-West University’s 2017 Varsity Football team took the fight to log leaders, Tshwane University of Technology in their final group stage encounter on 7 September 2017 at the TUT Stadium.
Defying the cynics’ unfavourable score predictions, on the pitch, NWU were determined to give TUT all they had and prove to be no pushovers, whether they qualified for the tournament semi-finals or not. As expected, the hosts, TUT, were first to find the back of the net thanks to team captain, Themba Ndlovu. This saw NWU respond with a swift and decisive tap-in equaliser in the 30th minute by Cameron Chweu.
Determined to take the fight to their hosts and leading the charge from the front, NWU team captain Sandile Mbatha fired a scorching penalty past TUT’s goal, placing NWU in the lead with TUT scrambling to consolidate play and find an equaliser.
As the game got heated well into the second half of the game, both teams began making simple mistakes that would inevitably cost either side’s missions to leave with a decisive win. NWU soon came to realise this in the 72nd minute when TUT forced an own goal from NWU’s Gift Mogorosi, taking TUT and NWU to a frustrating 2-2 tie which, even after the four minutes of additional time thrown into the match, saw both teams end the game in a draw.
2017 Varsity Football tournament writer Dumisani Koyana was spot on in his article published after the fifth round of the tournament following TUT’s encounter with UWC that, in football you don’t lose, you learn. NWU, and TUT, walked out of last week’s encounter equal in their game to the disappointment of many who predicted a thrashing at the hands of TUT.
NWU learned that skill on the pitch must be met with an undying determination and will to excel at all costs. Against TUT, NWU did not lose, they learned the importance of team work in making the dream work. And that is the most valuable lesson than any loss could ever teach.
NWU’s only hope of a semi-final spot was if UWC beat Tuks by a greater goal difference than two, which did not materialise.
By Phenyo Mokgothu