Campus Life

Preview: Football semifinals



The knock-out phase of Varsity Football is here, with unbeaten teams UJ and NWU hosting the semifinals on Monday.


After a tense final round of round robin action last week, the final four are left standing and will do battle in two epic clashes in Soweto where UJ welcome Kovsies and Mafikeng where NWU host defending champions UP-Tuks.


Both of these match-ups ended in 2-2 draws when the teams squared off in the league phase of the competition, but the venues will be different this time around.


UJ had to fight back twice to earn their 2-2 draw in Bloemfontein whilst NWU had to do the same in Pretoria, so there will be all to play for with a place in the final on the line.


We take a closer look at the two semifinals:


NWU v UP-Tuks


This will be something of a grudge match as a replay of last year’s semifinal. NWU have never beaten UP-Tuks in three Varsity Football matches, and they will be keen to put that right in front of their home crowd.


The Mafikeng fans will be out in their numbers once again, so it will be an electric atmosphere as these two powerhouses go at it again.


The defending champions have won more games than any other team this season, but have also lost two so find themselves on the road for the first time in the play-offs.


UP-Tuks are the only team to have ever beaten NWU in a Varsity Football game in Mafikeng, and they will be out to relive that victory in the final round before the semifinals last year which put them on the path to the title.


However, that is all in the past and in terms of current form the visitors should be full of confidence following their convincing win against NMMU last week.


The Pretoria side showed just how dangerous they can be when given too much space in the attacking third, but will also have to be defensively sharp against a deadly NWU frontline.


UJ v Kovsies


Both UJ and Kovsies will be playing in their first Varsity Football semifinal when they do battle in Soweto on Monday.


UJ have been dominant in their debut season, conceding just six goals from their seven games to finish unbeaten on top of the standings ahead of the play-offs.


Kovsies have not had things all their own way, with defeats to UP-Tuks and NMMU, but they have shown great fighting spirit to improve on last season which saw them just miss out on the semifinals by finishing fifth.


Kovsies are the team that has come closest to beating UJ this season, with a last-minute goals salvaging a 2-2 draw for a 10-man UJ side in Bloemfontein.


However, Bradley Carnell’s well-drilled side will deservedly take the favourites tag into this one as they look to book a home final next week.


The only game that UJ played in Soweto this season saw them hand UCT a 6-0 drubbing, so Kovsies will be up against it as they look to spring a surprise.


Both teams are known for their contructive style of play and like to dominate possession with neat passing movements which should make for an entertaining match.


Article and image source: VarsitySportSA