UJ relish ‘away’ Varsity Football semi-final
The University of Johannesburg are not concerned that their Varsity Football semi-final clash with Central University of Technology (CUT) will be played in Bloemfontein on September 8.
After at one stage appearing in danger of not making the semi-finals, UJ produced a strong finish to the league phase of the competition, winning their last two games.
That pushed them to 11 points for third place on the log, just one point behind CUT and ahead of NWU-Mafikeng on goal difference. Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) topped the log on 17 points.
UJ soccer manager Joel Kgokong acknowledged that CUT would be a hard proposition, but said his team would come out “with all guns blazing”.
“To be honest I prefer away matches,” said Kgokong. “The benefits are that all the boys will be in camp together to create a good team spirit.
“When we play at home it is different because some players are in res while others are at home, and we only get together for the pre-match meal.
“This year we have had our best results when we played away – at home we weren’t so good.”
UJ started the season in style with a 6-2 away win over NWU-Mafikeng and they also beat Fort Hare 4-2 away to clinch their spot in the top four.
Although they beat Wits in their penultimate fixture, other home games saw them lose to 3-0 to UP-Tuks and draw 0-0 with CUT.
Kgokong said after the team finished eighth in the University Sport South Africa (Ussa) tournament in July, they knew they would have a tough challenge in the Varsity Football competition.
“We are happy with the way things turned out, but we had to put in an extra effort to make the semis. We needed to keep ourselves grounded because the other teams are also in it to win it.”
He added that they first focused on the goal of making the semi-finals.
“Now that we have achieved that, the focus is on making the final. The boys have to go out and get it, while management will make sure we help them to get there.”
Kgokong said they had often spoken of the importance of doing well and what it meant for the varsity.
“The players know it will benefit them and everyone is behind them. They don’t want to let the university down.”