UJ beat defending Varsity Football champions NWU 3-1, while there were also opening day wins for Wits and UFS, and a thrilling Tshwane derby draw.
WITS 2 VUT 0
Welcome Masemola’s brace gave Wits a winning start to their Varsity Football campaign at Tuks Stadium.
He was deservedly named the FNB Player of the Match and received a cheque for R2,000.
VUT thought they had taken an early lead in this match but their celebrations were short-lived when the assistant referee ruled Manuel Makae’s goal offside.
It was a first half of few chances as the players took time to find their rhythm.
After falling behind, VUT threw everything at their opponents in search of an equaliser, but Wits stood firm in defence.
By opening up at the back in search of a goal, VUT were left vulnerable to counter-attacks by Wits, who were able to double their lead late on.
UKZN 0 UFS 1
Sello Diphoko’s second-half goal gave Kovsies a hard-fought win against UKZN at the Tuks B-Field.
The striker was named the FNB Player of the Match.
TUT 1 TUKS 1
Tebogo Mathebe rescued a point for TUT against Tuks at the University of Pretoria by firing in an equaliser with three minutes remaining.
Blessing Mabasa, who put Tuks 1-0 up in the 38th minute, was named the FNB Player of the Match.
The draw felt like a loss to Tuks, who have no one to blame but themselves for their lapse of concentration.
This pick of the first-round matches lived up to expectations. There were high tackles, goal-mouth action and lots of drama. The referee earned his match fee, as he constantly had to stop the game to warn players about their tackling.
Tuks have won the Varsity Football tournament on three occasions, while TUT have lifted the trophy twice. And the teams’ experience showed as they gave away little in a tightly-contested first half. It was end-to-end stuff as the arch-rivals had a go at each other.
Mabasa eventually broke the deadlock with a stunning shot on the edge of the 18-yard area, which took a deflection to give lanky TUT goalkeeper Sikhumbuzo ‘Zulu’ Ncube no chance.
On the balance of play, Tuks deserved to go into half-time ahead on the scoreboard.
After the break, TUT pushed more bodies in front in search of an equaliser, with danger man Tumelo Moeng keeping the Tuks’ defence on their toes.
TUT pressed and pressed, and were eventually rewarded with a point.
NWU 1 UJ 3
Nkosinathi Sibiya’s brace helped UJ stun defending champions NWU 3-1 at Tuks Stadium.
UJ’s five-star performance sent an early warning to the rest of the field.
Sibiya scored in each half to earn the FNB Player of the Match award, with Sanele Mhlungu also striking in the second. Sibiya Tshepiso Mahlangu scored NWU’s only goal in an entertaining game that kept TV viewers on the edge of their seats.
UJ thought they had scored the quickest goal of the tournament, after just one minute, but the referee ruled out Thanda Madiba’s effort for offside.
Sibiya found the back of the net in the 39th minute, but Mahlangu brought NWU back into the game with 67th-minute equaliser after goalkeeper Titi Mabuza had fumbled a cross.
However, two minutes later, Mhlungu scored an early contender for a goal of the tournament from a tight angle, and Sibiya completed his brace with three minutes of regulation time remaining.
UJ were good value for their victory, while NWU will need to fix their leaky defence.
Round 2 fixtures (Friday, 10 September):
UKZN vs NWU (14:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Football, DStv channel 205)
TUT vs VUT (15:00, Tuks B-Field)
UFS vs Tuks (16:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Football, DStv channel 205)
Wits vs UJ (18:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Football, DStv channel 205)
By Charles Baloyi
Photos: Christiaan Kotze/Varsity Sports