UKZN put paid to UJ’s slim chances of reaching the Varsity Football 2019 semi-finals by beating them 2-1 in Soweto on Thursday.
With the win, UKZN at least finished a turbulent season with a three-pointer under their belts.
UJ, on the other hand, will live to rue their up-and-down campaign and the slumber they started Thursday’s contest in at a cold UJ Soweto Campus Stadium.
The Orange Army committed a foul in the first five minutes of the game and it proved costly when visiting captain Lungani Nhlengethwa dipped the freekick underneath Alan Mabuza for a surprise opener.
Thereafter, UKZN allowed the hosts to control the midfield and create half-chances but nothing came of them with Siphamandla Sosibo leading the rearguard.
Despite their wastefulness, UJ continued to soldier while UKZN forward, Thabiso Nhlengethwa became more and more isolated as they did so.
Knowing they had to claim the victory to stand any chance, UJ coach Mandla Zwane showed his hand early in the second half using all three substitutes.
However, UKZN delivered a gut punch. From another freekick on 63 minutes, Lungani Nhlengethwa struck the crossbar and substitute Bongumenzi Zulu reacted quickest to head home the rebound.
UJ finally got the opening they craved, when Lesego Sebetlela swung in a dangerous cross from the left and Lebone Lephiri looped a well-directed header over Thandolwakhe Radebe to reduce the deficit.
In the closing 12 minutes, the hosts tried their best to find an equaliser and possible winner. However, Phelelani Mvelase, who came in as a substitute, missing a tap-in opportunity in the dying moments of the game.
In truth, when noted referee Victor Gomes blew a close to the match, UKZN were the deserved winners. UJ huffed and puffed, but couldn’t find the decisive elements in their game to claim the victory which – when the evening was over – wouldn’t have seen them through to the semi-finals anyway.
UJ (0) 1 Lebone Lephiri
UKZN (1) 2 Lungani Nhlengethwa, Bongumenzi Zulu
FNB Player of the Match: Siphamandla Sosibo (UKZN)
Debonairs Pizza Real Deal Save of the Match: Thandolwakhe Radebe (UKZN)
MTN Pulse Moment of Brilliance: Bongumenzi Zulu (UKZN)
UJ: 27. Alan Mabuza (GK), 17. Sihle Mbele, 14. Thabang Lebese, 13. Aidan Basiak, 4. Lesego Sebetlela, 18. Moagi Makhoane, 6. Sphesihle Mbhele (capt), 15. Neo Lebopa, 19. Siyabonga Goqo, 7. Junior Makhubele, 23. Lebone Lephiri.
Replacements: 28. Richard Lona (GK), 2. Nkosinathi Sibiya, 5. Preston McKay, 10. Sibusiso Dlamini, 20. Prince Matje, 22. Goodwell Mosima, 24. Lebogang Mosiane.
Coach: Mandla Zwane
UKZN: 1. Thandolwakhe Radebe (GK), 17. Eugene Mkhize, 16. Thobani Maseko, 25. Siphamandla Sosibo, 14. Sonqoba Shezi, 4. Lungani Nhlengethwa (capt), 15. Sifundo Nkosi, 13. Bheka Ncube, 21. Siphelele Mbewana, 11. Khumbulani Mbokazi, 2. Thabiso Nhlengethwa.
Replacements: 19. Thabani Dlamini (GK), 6. Mzwandile Mkhize, 8. Lungelo Dube, 9. Bongumenzi Zulu, 10. Philakahle Dlamini, 12. Bhekabambo Mkhize, 22. Busiswa Sibiya.
Coach: Menzi Myeni (stand-in)
By Gontse Hlophe