THE WITS student team did most of the early running against the University of Pretoria (Tuks) in their second-round match of the Varsity Football tournament.
But Wits, just as they did last Monday in a 4-0 loss to North West University – Mafikeng Campus, failed to turn that pressure into goals, going down 2-0 to Tuks.
Again, Wits was put to the sword by an opponent simply more ruthless in front of goal than our boys in yellow.
Tuks scored two unanswered goals in front of their home crowd at the Tuks Stadium to notch up their first win in the second week of the nine-week tournament.
Wits just cannot score
Wits suffered their second straight loss and another 90 minutes without scoring on a cold night on the Highveld, made colder by the disappointing result.
Things, however, did not start out bleakly for the Witsies, and a powerful shot from outside the 18-yard area in the 12th minute forced the Tuks goalkeeper to punch the ball past his right-hand upright for a corner.
It was a signal of intent from Wits, and while Tuks struggled to settle into a rhythm, Wits passed the ball with purpose.
This did not last though and soon Tuks took control of the game and besieged the Wits goal with attack after attack.
Unsurprisingly, Tuks took the lead after attacker Mosa Sesele headed in a cross from a well-taken corner.
Before and after the goal, goalkeeper Mohale Kgabusi more than proved his abilities, making many brave saves to keep Wits in the game.
Wits had opportunities to level the score, but did not do enough to breach the Tuks defence.
When Wits finally does score…
Tuks got their second goal handed to them on a platter in the 89th minute when Wits defender Nelson Mwale scored an own goal.
Mwale was caught stranded after he could not get out of the way of a low and powerful cross following a Tuks counter-attack.
Wits are now last on the eight-team table.
Sandwich: Wits player Mzimkhulu Nhlengethwa escapes NWU defenders Photo: Prelene Singh
North West University (NWU) are early favourites to lift the inaugural Varsity Football title, after the men from Mafikeng thrashed Wits 4-0 at Milpark Stadium on Monday night.
The launch of Explosive Mondays, where student football teams from eight universities around the country will compete every Monday for the next nine weeks, was festive and filled with entertainment on and off the field.
The match, played in front of a packed a home crowd was beamed live by DStv channel Supersport, as will 15 out of the total 33 games, and this raised the atmosphere to fever-pitch on a frosty night in the Highveld.
Prizes on offer for those who braved the cold added to the atmosphere. Cash prizes for the most vocal fans and res’s with the most colourful supporters, a raffle for five cases of beer and a sea of freebies made it a memorable evening.
Memorable that is, for all except the Wits student team, who were a goal down within the first 15 minutes, and forced to chase shadows in the second half when UNW put on an exhibition of idiski, or more precisely “ukupencila” – vernacular in South African townships for “keep-ball” and dribbling.
While the team from the North West was much fitter, quicker, and more aggressive in attack throughout the 90 minutes, the score at half-time could have been in Wits’s favour had the home team turned their dominance in possession into goals.
Wits were comfortable on the ball playing crisp, one-touch football that delighted Witsies, who chanted war-cries and bayed for NWU’s blood.
Phenyo Mongalo, Zachary Cohen, and captain Mzimkhulu Nhlengethwa were inventive in midfield and fed the strikers well, but Wits front-line just wasn’t up to the task and squandered plenty of chances to score.
Wits paid the ultimate price for their wastefulness, conceding a penalty in the 11th minute and another three goals in the final quarter of the game.
Wits head coach, Karabo Mogudi attributed the disappointing performance to the recent university vacations, which he said affected his team’s fitness.
“If our conditioning level was at the required standard we would have done much better,” he said.
Mogudi said NWU were fitter and sharper than his charges because they had been training in preparation for National First Division (NFD) play-offs.
He also said the tournament was a great initiative, but stressed that it was important for the players to be successful on and off the field.
“I’ll only know the benefits of the tournament at the end of the year, when everyone passes and does well in their studies … when they come back to me and say ‘coach, I don’t owe the University anything”.
Oh dear! The fourth goal really knocked the stuffing out of Wits Photo: Prelene Singh