After a disappointing opening round loss against Central University of Technology, the University of Johannesburg hit back strongly to defeat arch-rivals UP-Tuks 1-0 in their Varsity Football match last week.
The crucial win over the defending champions, registered in the Pretoria side’s backyard, has put UJ’s title bid back on track and they will be looking to capitalise on that against Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) on Thursday.
However, UJ soccer manager Joel Kgokong said they would have to remain focused on the task ahead as TUT remained one of the top contenders for the title.
The Tshwane side came from behind to draw with UP-Tuks in their opening game and then showed their firepower by crushing University of Fort Hare 7-0 last week.
“Before the season started we identified Tuks and TUT as the teams we wanted to beat and we know TUT will be a tough encounter,” said Kgokong.
“But we will be playing our first home game of the competition this year and we are looking forward to performing in front of our home fans, who can act as a 12th man.”
He added that with four of their remaining games at home, they would be looking to capitalise on the situation.
“We want to use our home-ground matches to our advantage and even the away match is in Johannesburg, against Wits, which is close to use,” he said.
Against Tuks, Kgokong said they had been solid in the midfield and in defence, showing their ability by keeping the fired-up attackers at bay in the first half.
“We have been good in those areas, although we were a bit shocked with our start against CUT where we lost 1-0.
“That was not the way we wanted to start, but it was very satisfying to come back against Tuks and, even more, to beat them at home.”
He added that the one area they would be looking to improve was their finishing ability in front of goal.
“We have created chances, but we now need to convert those into goals,” said Kgokong.
He added they did seize the opportunity when Tebogo Mandyu slotted a penalty against Tuks and they would be aiming to build on that against TUT.