UJ beat TUT 5-4 on penalties in the first Varsity Football semi-final at Tuks Stadium on Tuesday, before UFS defeated the hosts 2-1 to reach their maiden final.
The decider will take place at Tuks Stadium on Monday, 4 October (19:15, SuperSport Variety 4, DStv channel 209).
UJ 1 TUT 1 (UJ won 5-4 on penalties)
UJ converted all five of their penalties to win an entertaining semi-final that ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.
TUT’s Sanele Nene put his penalty over the bar to send UJ into wild celebrations.
The Joburg students last reached the final in 2016 and are aiming to lift the trophy for the first time since the inaugural tournament in 2013.
However, there was controversy when the assistant referee raised his flag after TUT goalkeeper saved Titi Mabuza’s penalty. The referee ordered a re-take and the UJ keeper accepted the invitation to score, sending Ncube the wrong way.
UJ midfielder Thulani Zandamela won the FNB Player of the Match award.
UJ made a good start to this semi-final, with winger Tumelo Molubi winning a free-kick after being fouled by Kwanele Khoza. Molubi passed the set-piece to Ngoanamello Rammala, who crossed the ball for birthday boy Tristan Nikitaridis. While the tall striker couldn’t quite get to it, Maselesele Makoti was able to head in the opening goal in the ninth minute.
Ncube should have done better as he rushed off his line and missed the cross. TUT coach Bushy Moloi was furious with his team’s defence and couldn’t hide his frustration.
TUT could not find a way past UJ in the first half, with skipper Thabo Lekaba putting his free-kick over the bar in the 35th minute.
Makoti could have gone into the break with a brace for UJ, but Ncube pushed his effort from a Nkosinathi Sibiya cross over the bar.
It was a scorching hot day in Tshwane but the weather changed in the second half with wind and rain.
UJ played on the counter-attack as TUT rushed forward, chasing the clock.
The Red Machine’s pressure paid off in the 78th minute when Jim Nasele equalised, but the resultant penalty shootout saw their joy turn to despair.
TUKS 1 UFS 2
Kovsies proved that their 3-1 win against Tuks in Round 2 of the tournament was no fluke with a well-deserved semi-final victory.
It is the first time the Free State students have reached a Varsity Football final, having lost 2-1 to UJ in their 2016 semi-final.
Tuks made a dream start to this match when Nhlanhla Mabaso scored with a header from Sello Mathuane’s corner in the third minute.
But the lead lasted for just seven minutes as Kovsies’ Kamogelo Macholo unleashed a long-range effort to beat Siyabonga Gumede outside the 18-yard box. Macholo showed power and precision, and the Tuks goalkeeper clearly did not expect him to fancy his chances from so far out.
A floodlights failure then plunged the players into darkness but fortunately there was only a five-minute break in play.
On the half-hour mark, Gumede redeemed himself with a top save to deny Macholo.
Makhaola Mohale tested Gumede in the Tuks goal in the 51st minute. Soon after, Tuks captain Blessing Mabasa fouled Macholo to concede a penalty, and Kovsies skipper Thabo Lesibe stepped up to convert the spot-kick.
Sello Diphoko was unlucky not to find the back of the net for Kovsies in the 87th minute when he hit the crossbar.
UFS goalkeeper Ntobeko Mhlongo then denied Selotola Mathuane from close range in stoppage time.
At the final whistle, Kovsies celebrated a famous win while Tuks players broke down in tears.
Kovsies’ Alonso Diedricks was named the FNB Player of the Match.
Varsity Football women’s Round 1 fixtures (Wednesday, 29 September):
Wits vs DUT – Group A (13:00, Tuks B-Field)
NWU vs UL – Group B (14:30, Tuks B-Field)
UJ vs UWC – Group B (16:30, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Variety 4, channel 209)
TUT vs Tuks – Group A (18:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Variety 4, channel 209)
By Charles Baloyi
Photos: Catherine Kotze/Varsity Sports