The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Senior Men’s Football team has reached a momentous milestone with their promotion to the SAFA ABC Motsepe League. This achievement comes on the heels of their remarkable performance in various league and cup competitions. Emerging victorious in three out of four Gauteng Provincial Payoff games, the team secured a second-place finish on the log standings, earning automatic promotion to the second division of South Africa’s professional soccer league.
The UJ Senior Men’s Football team was crowned champions of the 2022/23 SAFA Johannesburg Regional League Blue Stream in June 2023. In 2021, the team won the SAFA Johannesburg Regional League Blue Stream, but could not successfully make it past the playoffs.
In the Johannesburg Regional League playoffs, which featured the four winners from the different streams, the UJ Senior Men’s Football Team displayed their prowess by securing consecutive 2-1 victories against Eldo Sampdoria and Opopo FC on Saturday, 10 June 2023, at Marks Park Sports Grounds.
UJ’s rising profile in South African Football
Expressing his joy at the team’s accomplishment, Head Coach Karabo Mogudi stated, “This has been a long time coming. We have put in a lot of hard work. In 2021, we won the league but fell short in the playoffs. In 2022, we finished second in the league. This year, we won the league, the regional playoffs, and secured second place in the provincial playoffs. Although we could have won the final game, facing the playoff log leaders was always going to be a tough challenge. Overall, I am extremely happy that we have qualified for the ABC Motsepe League.”
Mogudi acknowledged that the ABC Motsepe League would present even greater challenges, but he viewed this achievement as significant for both the university and the players. He emphasised their strong performance in various competitions, expressing confidence that they could match the level of teams in the ABC Motsepe League. He even envisioned the possibility of competing in the playoffs of the National First Division if they continue to excel.
During the Gauteng Provincial Playoffs, UJ secured a 1-0 victory against Wanda United FC on Sunday, 2 July, followed by another 1-0 win against Real Hearts FC on Sunday, 9 July 2023. However, they experienced a setback with a 2-0 loss to Mike One Stars FC on the same day.
Acknowledgment from the sporting fraternity
Ms. Nomsa Mahlangu, Senior Director of UJ Sport Division, expressed immense happiness at this historic milestone for University of Johannesburg Football. She attributed the team’s success to their hard work, winning mentality, and the support from the university leadership. Mahlangu highlighted UJ Football’s remarkable rise in recent years, including winning the FNB Varsity Football tournament in 2021, finishing as runners-up in 2022, and claiming victory in the USSA tournaments and the SAFA Johannesburg Regional League Blue Stream twice within three years. She reiterated the intention to eventually reach the professional league, acknowledging the significant strides UJ has made and the attention they have garnered within the sporting fraternity.
“UJ is a force to be reckoned with, and many people in the sporting fraternity, as well as those watching from a distance, have noticed the great strides we have made. I am proud of Coach Karabo and his entire technical team, Manager Nolufefe Sila, the players, and everyone involved. Congratulations, Orange Army!” said Ms. Mahlangu.
The ABC Motsepe League currently serves as South Africa’s second division and the overall third tier of football. With 144 teams divided into nine divisions based on the country’s nine geo-political provinces, the competition is highly competitive. Each provincial division consists of 16 teams, with the winners from each division qualifying for the annual Promotional Play-offs. The winners of the two playoff streams secure promotion to the National First Division.