UJ beat UFS 4-1 at Tuks Stadium on Monday night to claim their first Varsity Football title.
UJ, who had previously reached the final in 2014 and 2016, were worthy winners having topped the log and beaten TUT on penalties in their semi-final. The stage was too big for Kovsies, who were playing in their first final having finished third on the log and beaten Tuks in the semis.
Nkosinathi Sibiya, Tristan Nikitaridis and Thulani Zandamela helped UJ take a three-goal lead into half-time. Thandolwethu Khoza pulled a goal back for Kovsies in the second half but Pogiso Mabote scored UJ’s fourth in stoppage time to complete a remarkable victory. Kovsies had defeated UJ 1-0 during the league stage, but that result counted for nothing in the final.
UJ skipper Stephen Lebese marked the tournament’s top-scorer Sello Diphoko tightly throughout the game. Ntobeko Mhlongo denied Tristan Nikitaridis with a brilliant save in the 10th minute. Nikitaridis’ aerial prowess created all sorts of problems for the Kovsies’ defence as did Nkosinathi Sibiya and Ngoanamello Rammala with their overlapping runs on the flanks.
A defence-splitting pass from the educated foot of Advocate Mokwena set up Sibiya to score UJ’s first goal in the 25th minute. UJ doubled their lead in the 33rd minute when Nikitaridis scored a goal via a deflection. Nineteen-year-old Zandamela then scored a cracker for UJ in the 40th minute to end the game as a contest after Tumelo Molubi had set him up with a beautiful assist. Khoza scored for UFS in the 57th minute, capitalising on a poor clearance from UJ goalkeeper Titi Mabuza, but Mabote scored UJ’s fourth to add insult to Kovsies’ injury.
FNB Player of the Match: Thulani Zandamela (UJ)
FNB Player of the Tournament: Sello Diphoko (UFS)
Golden Boot: Sello Diphoko (UFS)
Photo Credit: Catherine Kotze/Varsity Sports