UJ Stars Shining Bright
Varsity Football: UJ Stars Shining Bright
The University of Johannesburg has proven that they have the big match temperament to bounce back from an inconsistent performance in the round-robin phase and claim a spot in the 2016 Varsity Football Final.
What makes this achievement all the more remarkable is the fact that they have managed to replicate the achievements of their debut season in 2014 when current Orlando Pirates assistant coach Bradley Carnell was the man at the helm.
UJ produced sublime attacking football in that debut campaign to end up hosting the 201 Final, only to fall short in the end. This time, though, they will make the short trip north to Pretoria to take on Tshwane University of Technology on Thursday, September 22.
Here are five UJ players to keep your eye on!
Dynamite between the sticks
The goalkeeping position has possibly been the most hotly contested throughout the campaign, with almost all of the competing teams' shot stoppers putting their hands up to be counted with clean sheets and brilliant saves.
Mpumelelo Sambo is relatively small in terms of stature but he makes up for that with superb reflexes and excellent positioning. Sambo proved his worth by saving a few penalties in the competition - semifinal penalties included - as well as two clean sheets.
Captain my captain
Current Highlands Park defender Grant Bruchhausen set the standard of what is expected in the heart of UJ's defence. Not only was his exploits good enough to land a professional contract but his leadership skills makes him the complete defender.
Current UJ captain Matthew Edwards had big shoes to fill when Bruchhausen left but has taken to the role like a duck to water. He has a commanding demeanour about him that has allowed him to gain the respect of his fellow players, his match awareness is up there with the best and his aerial prowess makes him a danger in the opposition's box.
Every team requires one or two players who play a pivotal role in controlling the pace of the game and has the ability to pick out effective passing lines with ease.
Tebogo Mandyu is that player in the UJ midfield who ensures the team remains true to their style and game plan. He controls the flow of the game with consummate ease and pushes the tempo of the game when it is needed.
In Katlego Ntsabeleng, UJ has a versatile player who can play on either side of the field. He has been one of their standout players throughout the competition with consistent performances in which he displays skill that is beyond his years.
He is no slouch in front of goal either and has hit the back of the net on a few occasions while he has also played an instrumental role in setting up scoring chances in almost every match he played.
The basic purpose of a wing is to provide his team with width to stretch the opposition as well as providing speed and skill in the attacking third of the field. Further to that, he should possess the ability to whip in quality crosses at will and cut infield to change the point of attack.
UJ's wing, Samuel Warder has provided his side with exactly that after initially being used as an impact player at the start of the campaign. His exploits, in which he displayed good pace and kept the opposition's defence on their toes, led to him cementing a starting spot.