The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Senior Men’s Football Team has secured their spot in the semifinals of the 2023 FNB Varsity Football tournament with an outstanding performance in their fourth home game of Round 6. On Thursday, 31 August 2023, at the UJ Soweto Stadium, they convincingly defeated the visiting team from the University of Free State (UFS-Kovsies) with a resounding score of 3-0.
The match began at a slow pace, with both teams creating half-chances for goal attempts. UJ’s striker, Siphosihle Nkambule, had a one-on-one opportunity against the UFS goalkeeper but unfortunately chipped the ball over the crossbar. However, the deadlock was finally broken in the 32nd minute when Sanele Ndlalane executed a beautifully crafted chip over the UFS goalkeeper, securing the opening goal for UJ. UFS failed to clear the ball off the goal line, and the referee signalled for UJ’s well-deserved lead.
Just seven minutes later, Ndlalane struck again, netting his second goal of the match, this time from Malik Mashinini’s precise cross from the right flank, extending UJ’s lead to 2-0. UFS, despite launching several attacks on the UJ defence, couldn’t find the back of the net before halftime. A notable attempt by a UFS striker to challenge UJ’s goalkeeper, Richard Banga Lona, was thwarted as the UJ shot-stopper expertly handled the on-target strike.
In the second half, UJ managed to maintain their comfortable 2-0 lead by controlling ball possession and playing in their own half. UFS persistently searched for a goal to narrow the deficit, but their efforts proved futile. Advocate Mokwena, who was later named the FNB Player of the Match, took a long-range shot at the goal when he spotted the UFS goalkeeper outside of his box. However, the ball hit the crossbar, landed on the goal line, and remained in play, sparking euphoria among the fans who briefly believed it was a goal.
In the 82nd minute, Mokwena capitalised on Nkambule’s assist in the box, scoring UJ’s third goal after a swift counterattack. This victory marked Banga Lona’s third clean sheet at home, solidifying UJ’s dominance.
With this impressive win, the UJ Orange Army maintains its top position on the tournament log, boasting 14 points. Their next challenge awaits as they face the defending champions, currently in second place, Tshwane University of Technology, on Thursday, September 7, 2023, at the UJ Soweto Stadium.
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