Ndlalane’s brace secures first win for UJ at opening FNB Varsity Football home game

Sanele Ndlalane’s two quick goals in the 8th and 12th minutes handed the University of Johannesburg’s Senior Men’s Football Team a much-needed win at their first home game in the 2023 FNB Varsity Football tournament on Thursday, 10 August. UJ secured their first in this year’s FNB Varsity Football tournament after playing to goalless draws against North West University-Mafikeng and the University of the Western Cape, respectively, in the past two weeks.

Sanele Ndlalane of UJ Varsity Men’s Football 2023 Thursday 10 August 2023 UJ vs VUT at UJ Soweto campus, Soweto Photo by: CATHERINE KOTZE/C&C PHOTO AGENCY

Speaking on the team’s first win, Head Coach Karabo Mogudi said, “Its an important win for us because we come from two draws away from home. I’m happy that we managed to score two goals in front of our home crowd. It’s a confidence boost and I believe that it will galvanise the team even better. Although we were under pressure in the second team, the supporters pushed our team to manage the game well. We did not crack, so congratulations to the team.”

Ntokozo Mathobela was named PLayer of the Match in the game between UJ and VUT at UJ Soweto Stadium – Photo. Varsity Sports

In a packed UJ Soweto Stadium, UJ started the match energetically, creating a couple of goal-scoring opportunities in the first few minutes. UJ’s Siphosihle Nkambule’s strike at the goalkeeper in the 3rd minute of the first half from the right flank showed UJ’s intent to score early, but the VUT goalkeeper was well positioned to parry the ball away from danger.

“My aim for the game today was to assist the team to score goals after the two goalless draws in North West and Cape Town. I’m glad that we managed to score goals and win the match. Scoring two goals in less than five minutes boils down to what we have been doing in training. We had a challenge among the players that if a player scores two goals, each player has to reward him with R100 – so I’m happy,” says UJ’s goal scorer, Ndlalane.

The visitors found themselves in trouble in the 8th minute of the game after Ndlalane was brought down through a reckless tackle in the box, giving UJ an early opportunity to go up on the scoreboard. Beaming with confidence, Ndlalane gave UJ their first goal with a composed penalty kick. Tumelo Molubi’s educated left foot almost extended UJ’s lead in the 12th minute from a free kick just outside the box, but the ball took a deflection to go inches over the cross bar, resulting in a corner kick.

From the subsequent corner kick, Ndlalane passed the ball to Molubi to take a shot at goal, but the ball was blocked by VUT’s defense to land in Ndlalane’s space. Ndlalane’s strike at goal rattled the upright post, rebounding back to him. He scored from the rebound with a curler, extending Orange Army’s lead.

UJ’s Siphosihle Nkambule dribbles past a VUT player – Photo. Varsity Sports

UJ went into the halftime break leading 2-0. The second half produced no goals from both teams, with VUT dominating play and UJ managing the game to retain the 2-0 lead. The lively crowd fired up the hosts with students bussed in from the three other University campuses (DFC, APB, and APK).

Given UJ’s astounding performances, the fast-paced Ntokozo Mathobela was named Player of the Match (R1500) at the end of the game. In the 4th round on 17 August 2023, UJ takes on University of Fort Hare at the UJ Stadium with kickoff set for 15:00.

After an influential contribution to UJ’s thrilling performance, Mathobela said, “It was a game of two halves. We did well by scoring two goals. Unfortunately, in the second half we had to sit back to absorb pressure and rely on counter attacks. Our goal scorer had a wonderful game, and also working as a team means that the team will do well to suppress the opponents from causing any problems for us.”

As it stands (after 3 matches played), UJ sits in second place on the log with five points after two draws and one win. TUT tops the standings with seven points after two wins and one draw.

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