UJ Send Kovsies Packing
UJ will host UP-Tuks in the Varsity Football Final next week after they beat a gutsy Kovsies side on penalties in their semifinal.
The Free State side pushed the table-topping hosts all the way, but UJ kept their cool in the shoot-out to ensure that they will face defending champions UP-Tuks in Soweto next week.
The home side made a storming start to the game, surging forward and forcing Kovsies onto the back foot with the opening goal coming after just three minutes as defender Wisdom Mathebula unleashed a powerful first-time shot which rocketed into the top left corner.
That forced the visitors to press high up the pitch in search of an equaliser, but UJ were full of confidence and managed to absorb the pressure without much fuss.
The battle in the midfield was fierce as both sides looked to take control, although opportunities on goal became more scarce as the first half wore on.
The sides were level 10 minutes before half-time as Kovsies' Walter Phori met a pinpoint long ball and beat UJ goalkeeper Mduduzi Khumalo from close range to make it 1-1.
That was the first goal that UJ have conceded from open play all season and it stung the home side into action, but Kovsies held out well and the teams went into half-time deadlocked at 1-1.
Both teams made a determined start to the second half as they sought to take control and it would be the visitors to take the lead as defender Marathodi Phillies scrambled a goal after the UJ defence failed to deal with a cross into the box.
UJ drew level on the hour mark as Kaylan More got on the end of an accurate cross from Ruben de Freitas, and his header gave Kovsies goalkeeper Serasengoe Moodie no chance to level the scores once more.
That gave the home side the boost they needed as they started to push for another goal to take the lead back, but they were struck a massive blow when defender Lwazi Nogenga was shown a red card for a reckless challenge.
That gave Kovsies a great opportunity to sneak a win in the final stages, but they could not find a way through and the knock-out match went straight to penalties.
UJ took the early ascendency in the shoot-out as Kovsies striker Jay Jay Groenewald's effort was saved to put the visitors right up against it.
When Manxubandile Bantshi's penalty was also saved by Mduduzi Khumalo the victory was there for the taking, as UJ booked a spot in the final when Kovsies captain Themba Zimo put his shot over the crossbar.
FNB Man of the match: Sandro Claro
Samsung Super Striker: Wisdom Mathebula
For UJ: Wisdom Mathebula, Kaylan More
For Kovsies: Walter Phori, Marathodi Phillies
UJ: 1 Mduduzi Khumalo, 22 Wisdom Mathebula, 6 Lwazi Nogenga, 5 Lerato Tleane, 12 Kaylan More, 21 Grant Bruchhausen (captain), 11 Tshepo Tolo, 7 Ruben De Freitas, 13 Sandro Claro, 18 Pontsho Nyathi, 14 Karl Clements.
Substitutes: 16 Trent Harrison, 19 Ruwell Jagger, 9 Lumkile Dava, 20 Mfundo Mazibuko, 17 Jarred Abrahams, 15 Omphile Majwafi.
UFS: 1 Serasengoe Moodie, 4 Marathodi Phillies, 12 Kakudi Moreleba, 19 Jarred Meyer, 20 Dumisani Tjomelane, 15 Themba Zimo (captain), 24 Dylan O’Brien, 11 Lehlohonolo Mokoena, 7 Walter Phori, 6 Manxubandile Bantshi, 10 Simon Modupi.
Substitutes: 13 Tsoeu Mphezulu, 3 Unathi Mabandla, 2 Khauhelo Kholotsa, 16 Lehlohonolo Thaele, 9 Jay Jay Groenewald, 14 Glen Rikhotso, 22 Tebello Mokotjo.