All roads lead to UJ Soweto Stadium on Thursday 28 September when UJ face defending champions TUT in the final of the 2023 Varsity Football tournament.
This is the Red Army’s second consecutive appearance in the final while the Orange Army have marched into their third with crowning glory coming in 2021. Both teams come into the encounter following their dramatic victories in the semi-finals where both games were decided by penalty shootouts.
Varsity Football asked UJ captain Makoti Maselesele about the mood in the camp.
"I can tell you it is a mix of excitement, determination, and a bit of nervous energy as we have a lot of new players that will be playing their first final in Varsity Football. We've worked hard all season to reach this point, and there's a strong sense of belief and unity among the players.”
Despite not winning their last three outings against TUT, Maselesele says these defeats serve as a powerful motivation and they are determined to prove they can overcome the defending champions. He says gaining the home final advantage will play a major role in the way they play as the energy and encouragement from their home crowd can boost the team's morale.
"Being considered underdogs based on our recent performance against TUT in Varsity Football is a fair assessment, and we embrace that role. It's important to remember that in sports, every game is a new opportunity, and past results don't always predict the outcome."
Maselesele adds that the Orange Army fans can expect an unwavering commitment and determination from him and the entire UJ team on Thursday. He vows that they will leave everything on the field, playing with heart and passion for the university and the supporters.
"Being the captain of this group of players is an incredible honour. The dedication and talent within the team make it a privilege to lead them on and off the field.
"The prospect of potentially lifting the trophy for UJ and securing the university's second championship is a dream come true. It will be a testament to the hard work and commitment of every player, coach, and supporter who has been a part of our journey."
"To our incredible fans of the Orange Army, I want to express our deepest gratitude for your unwavering support throughout this journey. Your passion and dedication are the driving force behind our team's motivation and determination.
"As we approach the final, we carry your hopes and cheers with us onto the field. Win or lose, we promise to give our all, playing with heart and soul to make you proud."
by Gontse Hlophe