The coaches of the eight Varsity Football teams have made their choices to determine the three finalists, now it’s up to you to choose the 2019 FNB Player of the Tournament.
The finalists – in no particular order – are Lindani Nkabinde (NWU), Katlego Motlhatsang (UP-Tuks) and Thabiso Lebitso (TUT).
The trio would have edged out a number of other strong contenders. TUT’s Thuso Mlamla scored two of this year’s best goals while Jaydan Petersen (UWC) leads the scoring charts on four goals. Then there’s Clinton Herwel who’s delivered assists and goals for UWC and stout defence. Others, like goalkeepers Sikhumbuzo Ncube (TUT) and Ndelson Chauke (UFS), have chipped in for their teams to keep their tournament hopes alive, but ultimately these are your top three:
LINDANI NKABINDE (TUT)
Should NWU go on to win their maiden Varsity Football title, then Lindani 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.
For Nkabinde, next Thursday’s final presents his last chance to claim a winner’s medal as he turns 25 in October so it’s arguably no surprise ‘Djemba-Djemba’ has come to the fore. The second year Sports Science student has been the fulcrum for the Noble Boys midfield (starting seven of eight 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 and an excellent assist for Mandisi Gadla to score the match winner.
KATLEGO MOTLHATSANG (UP-TUKS)
Katlego Motlhatsang’s fourth Varsity Football campaign has not ended the way he would have wanted from a UP-Tuks team perspective, but the 24-year-old can hold his head high for his personal efforts. The 24-year-old started all eight matches for the Stripe generation this season and had an influence in most.
ALSO READ: Getting to know UP-Tuks’ Katlego Motlhatsang
After TUT beat them in the opening match of the campaign, Motlhatsang then delivered a man of the match performance in the win against UWC in Round 2. ‘Katz’ was then forced to take over the armband when Simbongile Njokwe got injured in Round 3 and guided his troops from deep midfield all the way to the semi-finals, when Njokwe returned.
Having claimed a second FNB award against CUT in Round 5, The BA Hons in Sport and Recreation Management student couldn’t have done more to help UP-Tuks’ cause.
THABISO LEBITSO (TUT)
TUT have reached a fifth straight Varsity Football final and it takes a team effort to keep that consistency going, but this season the extra bit of individual excellence has come from Thabiso Lebitso.
The 23-year-old is in his third year of Varsity Football and the quality of his performances have shown how he has grown through experience and deserved TUT’s number 10 jersey.
ALSO READ: The ins and outs of Thabiso Lebitso
In three consecutive matches from Rounds 2-4, he claimed a post-match award. The MTN Pulse Moment of Brilliance for his volleyed goal against UJ, the FNB Player of the Match after terrorising NWU during the Double Header, then another MTN award for scoring a decisive equaliser against UKZN.
Lebitso’s absence through injury was felt keenly during TUT’s Round 6 loss against UWC, so it was no surprise when coach Bushy Moloi didn’t hesisitate to start him on his return in the decisive Round 7 clash against CUT. The third year Sports Management student then coolly slotted his penalty in the semi-final against UP-Tuks and will be the man NWU’s defence will have to keep quiet if they are to deny TUT back-to-back titles.
To vote for your Varsity Football 2019 FNB Player of the Tournament, click here: https://www.facebook.com/varsitysportsSA/photos/a.296879807089484/2289109687866476
The winner will be announced at the final, on Thursday, 26 September.