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UWC going strong

UDUBS in the semis

UWC Football Club have reached the semi-finals of the Varsity Football Tournament in style, beating the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) 1-0 on 24 August – registering their fifth consecutive win in the competition this season.

The victory at UWC Sports Stadium stretched UWC’s lead on top of the log standings to an unreachable 16 points (the chasing pack are six points adrift with one round of games remaining) from six matches in the seven-game round-robin mini league. The win has earned them an advantageous home semi-final spot for the first time since the tournament commenced two years ago.

The game lived up to its billing as the top-of-the-table clash (TUT were second going into the game) with both sides taking on each from the onset. It was the home side who nearly opened the scoring when the hard-working Thulani Mkosi, who received his fourth award in five matches, hit the outside of the upright following Tapelo Sixishe’s saved attempt. On the night, Mkosi and Sixishe were honoured with the Samsung Super Striker and FNB Man of the Match awards, respectively.

As the game continued the home side started to dominate possession and create more scoring opportunities, with the visitors resorting to counter-attacks. The score remained goalless at halftime.

Fans were hardly seated after the restart when Sixishe’s well-delivered cross from the left found the towering Josh Silent in the box who out-jumped his markers to head home the only goal of the game.

The Pretoria side threw everything at UWC in search of an equaliser, leaving them vulnerable at the back at times, but neither side could effectively use the numerous scoring opportunities created. In the end the home side bagged all three points.

UWC coach Salie Adams was happy with the success and said it was mission accomplished for the University, acknowledging the commitment and teamwork of his players. He also praised the contribution of the fans, the technical staff, administrative and medical staff as well as his predecessor, Bobby Williams, “for laying a good foundation for the team”.

Adams, the former assistant coach of Premier Soccer League side Maritzburg United, commented that UWC’s success in the Varsity Football will put the institution on a higher pedestal and will help to attract talented footballers to come study, knowing that there is a platform and a stage to perform football at a higher level.

However, Adams emphasised that the main focus is for players to study and graduate, and that soccer is just another part of it.

On paper, there will not be much to play for when UWC travel to Port Elizabeth to face bottom of the log Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University for their last game of the mini-league on 31 August. But Adams insists that his team is not taking the game for granted.

“The idea of the team is to make sure we keep the momentum. Yes, there may be one or two personal changes in the starting eleven, but we want to continue with the momentum of winning.

“ It’s not about resting players or giving other players an opportunity, it’s about making sure that we maintain the intensity and concentration of not conceding goals and of creating enough opportunities to score. The players have bought into the idea and it doesn’t matter who plays, everybody needs to do their function and play their role according to the tactical demands of the team.

The focus has now turned to winning the semi-finals and reaching the finals, he said.  “From here we need to ensure that we bring some success to the institution. To achieve the success the players deserve is to win thesemi-finals”.