Varsity Football returned to packed stadiums across the country when the opening round of the 2023 competition kicked off with four action-packed matches. And judging by what happened on the pitch, football fans can look forward to more exhilarating clashes over the next nine weeks.
Defending champions TUT and UJplayed to a goalless draw while VUT scored an impressive away victory over UFH. NWU and UJ, and CUT and UWC also had to settle for draws in their respective first-round encounters.
TUT 0 UFS 0
Defending champions and UFS shared the spoils in Bloemfontein after playing to a goalless stalemate. Despite this though, the first-round fixture was an exciting match with end-to-end action.
It was a nervous start for both teams with neither side being able to take control. The first shot at goal only came in the 22nd minute and it came via the boot of TUT’s Ronald Mabaso. It was however well covered by the home side’s goalkeeper, Tisetso Seodinyane.
TUT certainly was the more attacking team in the first half. UFS did create some chances, but the weight of their final passes was way too strong, preventing them to find the back of the box and putting any real pressure on the visitors.
In the second stanza, the game opened up a little more especially towards the backend of the game and in desperation the shots on goal were being hit from further out.
Both teams' defence was up to the task and this resulted in the points being shared.
Player of the Match: Tebogo Lekaba (TUT)
TUT: Luyanda Madindi, Alan Moja, Mekdiwe Bongani Ncenya, Tebogo Lekaba, Ndumiso Kubheka, Thuso Mlamla, Anda Yamile, Hendrick Mncedisi Xaba, Ronald Mabaso, Tshiamo Mahome, Tiego Mathebe.
UFS: Tisetso Seodinyane, Iviwe Dyabuza, Obakeng Seekoei, Aphiwe Zulu, Thandolwethu Khoza, Lizwi Kunene, Ethan Goldstone, Eon Pieterse, Arlonso Diedricks, Sambulo Sithole
VUT 2 UFH 0
The game in the Davidson Stadium started with a high level of intensity from the visiting VUT team. They managed to create a goal-scoring opportunity within the first five minutes, but UFH goalkeeper Lihle Vathu made a spectacular save.
VUT forced UFH into a defensive mode while UFH were aiming to punish their opponents with counterattacks. VUT however set the tone early on, dominating possession and playing in UFH's half. However, they were unable to break the deadlock before halftime.
Then Perseverance Mashabane found the back of the net in the 47th minute from a free kick within range. VUT led 1-0 and continued to play with vigour and pressure on the ball. In the 57th minute, VUT’s Ntokozo Mgidicut at the edge of the box and unleashed a tremendous strike that put his team 2-0 up.
After conceding the second goal, UFH made some significant tactical changes. When the game then began to open for the home team, they started creating some goal-scoring opportunities. But their strikers Sinobomu Kapase and Lehlonono Thuledifailed to capitalise.
Scorers: 47’ 1-0 Perseverance Mashabane, 57’ 2-0 Ntokozo Mgidi.
Player of the Match: Ntokozo Mgidi (VUT)
VUT: Thabiso Simon Moeketsi, Sizwe Sibeko, KgotsoNhlapo, Perceverance Mashabane, Medupi Thokolo, Kgabo Ngoepe, Simamkele Masiza, Ntokozo Mgidi, Jabulane Koketso Mazibuko, Roger Modiba, Kgahlisho Kgomoeswana
UFH: Lihle Vathu, Athenkosi Jezi, Someleze Kapteni, Bonke Nxiwa, Mbeko Bungane, Thabani Mqambeli, Athenkosi Dobe, Bubele Gcuku, Sihle Mathumbu, Lonwabo Booi, Sinobom Kapase.
NWU 0 UJ 0
In a thrilling first-round match at the NWU Mafikeng Stadium, NWU and UJ showcased their prowess on the pitch, ultimately sharing the spoils.
The encounter proved to be a nail-biting affair, with both NWU and UJ displaying tactical brilliance and demonstrating their defensive resilience. Throughout the match, the players exhibited their technical abilities, making it challenging for either side to break through the opposing defence.
One critical moment came in the 44th minute when UJ was awarded a penalty after a contentious challenge in the box. Anticipation filled the stadium as Tumelo Molobi stepped up to take the spot-kick but the opportunity was squandered as the ball sailed wide.
NWU coach Amos Xabanisa said they expected this kind of game from UJ.
“They are a good side. They always give us a tough time, but I am happy we didn`t disappoint our supporters as we played at home. As for the next encounters at home, they are must-wins.”
UJ Coach Karabo Mogudi said he was happy with a point away from home.
“We squandered a scoring opportunity when we missed the penalty. Now it’s water under the bridge. I am happy with a draw away from home.”
Player of the Match: Tumelo Molobi (UJ)
NWU: Kamogelo Matane, Lucas Seromo, Kananelo Motsoeneng, Khopotso Moshap, Aphelele Sibisi, Lesego Motsepe, Pascual Tivane, Thabang Majoro, Reatlegile Kgosithebe, Lesiba Mahlong, Heaven Sereetsi.
UJ: Lona Richard Banga, Karabo Modisane, Thabo Moshikere, Maselesele Makoti, Ngwako Ramaloko, Advocate Mokwena, Tumelo Molubi, Ntokozo Mathobela, Malik Mashinini, Mongezi Mncube, Tokoloho Vilakazi.
CUT 1 UWC 1
A fiery affair played out in Bloemfontein on Thursday night. UWC made the journey to the City of Roses, to face newcomers CUT.
The pressure was on the home side from early on, as the visitors pelted Motlalentwa Jacob Mbolekwa’s goal. UWC’s early efforts were in vain though CUT’s Pule Macdonald Thekiso scored his side’s first goal in the 2023 Varsity Cup. The goal separated the sides going into halftime, much to the crowd’s delight.
The second half started just as the match did, with sustained UWC pressure, combined with often questionable defence from their opponents. Riyaaz Koopstadtused this to great advantage to score the equalising goal early in the second half.
Both sides had their opportunities to claim the win, as the final 10 minutes of the match became a back-and-forth affair. There were no further changes to the score line however and the teams had to settle for a point each from the encounter.
Scorers: 38’ 1-0 Pule Macdonald Thekiso, 54’ 1-1 Riyaaz Koopstadt.
Player of the Match: Riyaaz Koopstadt (UWC)
CUT: Motlalentwa Jacob Mbolekwa, Lefa Matlase, Simo Ndlovu, Khotso Mphene, Tumelo Mothabeng, Mpho Alex Ngcobo, Pule Macdonald Thekiso, Oratile Mothibedi, Pogisho Dikole, Tiisetso Mpholoana, Lehlohonolo Nkaekae.
UWC: Leathan Croats, Craig Joemath, Damian Overmeyer, Jadan Zeeman, Siyabulela Mcimeli, Sandile Nomjila, Relebohile Matima, Riyaaz Koopstadt, Devon Nolan, Leandro De Sousa, Khanya Alex Dyani.