UWC broke their Varsity Women’s Football curse when they beat Tuks 4-3 on penalties in Monday’s final at Tuks Stadium.
UWC had lost four of the previous five women’s finals, including a heart-breaking penalty shootout to TUT in 2019, but this time luck was on their side after the 90-minute stalemate.
Sinegugu Zondi converted the winning penalty for UWC after goalkeeper Regeri Ngobeni had saved three penalties from Betty Mallela, Morongwa Manamela and Gretel Buttress. Tuks keeper Mapaseka Mpuru stopped Babalwa Mngxunya and Khanya Xesi’s efforts.
The shootout was level at 3-3 after 10 penalties, and Buttress’ miss allowed Zondi to win it in sudden death.
UWC came into the final as the overwhelming favourites to claim their first title having scored 12 goals in four matches, including four in their semi-final win against Wits. But Tuks, who had beaten UJ 2-1 in their semi, had home-ground advantage.
In the eighth minute, UWC’s Khanya Xesi made a beautiful assist to Tiffany Kortjie, who failed to convert the chance.
UWC were patient with their build-up and camped in the Tuks’ half. They had more set-pieces, but did not capitalise on them and didn’t test the keeper enough despite dominating the ball possession.
Both teams showed a sense of urgency in the second half.
Xesi was frustrated as she was tightly marked by the Tuks’ defence and couldn’t get a shot on goal.
Kortjies thought she had scored the first goal in the 61st minute with a tap-in only to see the flag raised.
Xesi then celebrated a late winner for UWC, but her goal was also ruled offside and the game went to penalties.
FNB Player of the Match: Mmakhgotso Mashishi (Tuks)
FNB Player of the Tournament: Wendy Shongwe (Tuks)
Golden Boot: Khanya Xesi (UWC)
By Charles Baloyi
Photo: Catherine Kotze/Varsity Sports