The University of Johannesburg have no fear of taking on an unbeaten Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) when the final of the Varsity Football tournament is played in Tshwane on September 22.
UJ and TUT qualified for the final when they won their semi-finals last week, ironically by identical margins in penalty shoot-outs against Central University of Technology (CUT) and NWU-Mafikeng respectively.
The Johannesburg outfit and CUT played to a 1-1 draw in Bloemfontein before UJ took the penalty shoot-out 4-3, while TUT and NWU were goalless at the end of regulation time in Tshwane.
Now they will meet at Tshwane to decide who will be the new Varsity Football champions, with UJ determined to go one better than the runners-up spot they achieved in 2014.
Coach Mandla Zwane said they were determined to improve on their 2014 performance when the only game they lost was against UP-Tuks in the final.
Last year UJ failed to qualify for the Varsity Football competition, but they had now made amends, said the coach.
“This is what we wanted to achieve,” said Zwane, “because it gives us the chance to bury the memories of 2014. We now want to go one better than what we did two years ago.”
Despite TUT’s efforts in topping the log this year, the UJ mentor said playing in Tshwane did not bother them.
“We have been good playing away from home and this team is good enough to handle the conditions in Tshwane.
“I do not want to sound arrogant but we’re one of only two teams to take points off TUT,” he said in reference to their 1-1 draw at the TUT Stadium.
UJ showed their ability to handle conditions away from home when they beat NWU-Mafikeng 6-2 in their opening game and Fort Hare 4-2 in their final fixture before the play-offs.
The result over Fort Hare was a crucial one in that it enabled UJ to qualify for the semis after they had dropped points in other matches.
Zwane, though, never lost faith in their ability to qualify for the last four.
“The teams that were above us were also dropping points. I just kept telling the boys that they must believe we can go through and that’s how it turned out,” he said.
“I was always checking the log to see how the other teams had gone and some of the results went our way, even if we had a wobble here and there.
“I knew that if we got back-to-back wins (achieved against Wits and Fort Hare) we would be up there in contention for the top four.”