The Red Machine’s Thabiso Lebitso fighting for the ball againstTuks’ captain Simbogile Njokwe.
Affectionately known as the “Red Machine,’ the team booked a first spot in the finals, earning themselves a third Varsity Football final appearance since 2016, when they won the competition. In 2017, they lost against Tuks in an emotional clash between the two Tshwane giants.
The two sides met for the second time this year, in what was dubbed as a highly competitive match, given the history between them. Earlier in the competition, TUT thrashed Tuks 2-1 on their home ground. It was no secret; the 2017 champions would seek revenge against TUT this time round.
The match opened in steady mode, with both sides attacking from the wings but very cautious in the middle of the park, knowing exactly what they are capable of doing to one another. Despite a few shots at goal from both sides, they went to the half time with a 0-0 score.
The hosts started the second half with an opening attack from the left side. Coach Bushy Moloi, then tried his “counter attack” trick through right-winger, Thabiso Lebitso, but failed to finish in front of goal. TUT’s Lebogang Phatlane attempted, but his shot was out of target. Exactly 52 minutes into the match, Tuks’ Dylan Murchie missed a well-curled cross that left him with the keeper, but pounced the ball way above the goals.
Although the crowd thought the match would be decided in a penalty shootout, the Red Machines’ captain, Elliot Seema, rose to the challenge and slotted the first and only goal of the match, handing TUT a victory for the second time against Tuks in the 69th minute.
In a post-match interview, Seema said they played and defended very well. According to the Mokopane-born defender, his side showed a fantastic effort and played their hearts out. “We did everything in our power to win. I am thrilled that we are going to the finals again. This time, we are in it to win it and reclaim what is ours - the trophy,” he concluded.
Shadrack Nthangeni, Director of Sport and Recreation, thanked coach Moloi and the Red Machine boys for their remarkable performance, qualifying for the 2018 Varsity Football Final against Wits. “The boys have done it against all odds. We wish them the best of luck in the final,” he concluded.
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