(Published - 6 September 2019)
UWC Football Club beat the University of North West 3-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Varsity Football in style. UWC finished the round-robin mini-league on top and secured a home ground advantage.
Interestingly, they will face the same opponents from Mafikeng in their semi-final clash next Thursday evening.
Off the field, the game at the UWC Sports Stadium last night was used to raise awareness about violence against women and children as well as the recent spate of xenophobic attacks.
On the field, it was a tight and tense encounter with both sides more cautious in the first stanza. It was only just before the break that defender Clinton Herwel nodded home his third goal of the campaign to give the home side the lead.
After the break, the game opened up and UWC forward Jaydan Petersen stretched the lead to 2-0 when he struck home a low shot following a brilliant pass from Stefan Stuurman. It was Petersen’s fourth goal in the Varsity Football competition this season - making him the leading goal-scorer in the tournament.
The goal seemed to have settled the nerves of the home crowd, but the boys from North West were not going down without a fight. Two quick goals by the visitors levelled matters and brought back the nerves among the home team supporters. Then FNB Player of the Match Herwel’s brilliant cross found towering striker Leandro De Sousa in the far post to grab the winning goal.
With a new coach at the helm and 80% of the players new to the team, finishing on top for UWC is a great achievement. Mentor Stanton Smith has reason to be happy. “It was a fantastic end to our round-robin campaign and a fantastic entry into the semi-finals,” he commented.
According to Smith, who was at the helm of UWC when they first qualified for Varsity Football in 2013 and an assistant coach when the team won the competition two years later, North West were tough opponents. “But I still feel we were better today. The boys were resilient and played with their hearts on their sleeves to grind out a victory against a very good team.”
Smith attributed the team’s success to the hard work and a lot of planning which he credited his that his technical team for. “We gave a lot of attention to individual players and their specific needs. And we have experience of what is needed at this level, and I feel we got it right this season.”