“This is the greatest moment of my life”, said Sir Alex Ferguson as his side beat Bayern Munich in the summer of 1999 to complete their famous UEFA Champions League final comeback.
Seeing Lindani Nkabinde’s 25-yard cracker of a shot find the back of the net in the Varsity Football semi-finals reminded me of Peter Drury’s now infamous commentary for Roma’s 2018 comeback against Barcelona only this time it wasn’t Roma causing an upset in a game many thought would go the other way. It was the Noble Boys who had risen from their 3-2 ruins in their Round 7 encounter with UWC. To the UWC team and their supporters, along with those who had called the North-West University outfit ‘bridesmaids’, the unthinkable unfolded before their eyes. To them, it was not meant to happen, it could not happen… yet it was happening.
In what will undoubtedly be dubbed one of the great upsets in Varsity Football history and arguably the greatest comeback ever, NWU fought back from the brink of exiting the tournament (at 0-2 down in the Round 7 match) before sealing UWC’s fate in the 90th minute with a stunning goal by Nkabinde propelling the Noble Boys into the annals of history by not advancing to their first final since the tournament started in 2013.
The old football adage which says players should keep going until the final whistle makes sense in theory but is hard to act out especially when the lead looks insurmountable and the opposition is very strong. One adage, however, helps the cause of players fighting for a comeback and is the one that says “it only takes a second to score a goal”. That will again be worth bearing in mind when they walk onto the pitch, their pitch, one final time, standing as eleven but with the strength of over 70 000 Purple army soldiers that make up the North-West University. For honour. For glory.
The prophecy of their coach, Karabo Masehela, that lightning does not strike the same place twice rang truer when the final whistle gave way to NWU’s celebrations. Now a game a game of margins against TUT awaits. All or nothing.
“This is the champions’ final we deserve to see. This is the tournament we deserve. And for me, my money is on NWU’s jersey numbers 5 and 22, Sibusiso Ndlovu and Lesego Motsepe. In my view, the duo could play for any team, in any league, in any land in the world, and they would never strike a ball more purely than they have in all their match features this tournament”, said football writer, Bophelo Seleke.
In addition to the anticipated match between the NWU and TUT (at 18:00), the scheduled curtain-raiser will be the Varsity Women’s Football final at 16:15. Both will be broadcast live on SuperSport 204 and 210.