Log-leaders UJ chasing a home semifinal
The University of Johannesburg will be looking to press home their advantage in the final round of the Varsity Football tournament as they target a home semifinal.
This is the view of one of their star players from this year’s campaign, Mokete Mogaila, who received the Samsung moment of brilliance award for the second successive week on Thursday.
The 23-year-old, who can operate on the left or right wing, played another key role as UJ extended their unbeaten streak to six matches with a 1-1 draw against University of Western Cape in Bellville, Cape Town, last week.
Their run of success means they have secured a berth in the top four, with one round remaining, but Mogaila said they still wanted to finish the job by clinching a home semifinal.
UJ finish off the league phase of their programme with another away fixture when they take on North-West University in Mafikeng on Thursday. A victory or a draw in that game will ensure they end in the top two.
“Securing a home semifinal will be a massive achievement for us,” said Mogaila.
“We understand that there is a bit of pressure due to the expectations of the home fans, but the advantages of playing on familiar turf outweigh this.
“At home you know the conditions and you know what to expect, so it is much more beneficial to be at home than away.”
The UJ star, who is in residence at the Auckland Park campus, said he was pleased with his performances this season.
“At the moment everything is working out well and I’m hoping for the best in my career,” said Mogaila, who is studying mathematical science.
“I would like to play professionally and earn a place in one of the PSL teams.
“In the long-term I have the Bafana Bafana squad as a goal because I really would love to represent my country.”
In the meantime, he stressed he was enjoying his football with the UJ team and had been working well with his teammates this season.
“We really look forward to playing and we are just taking it one game at a time.
“The plan is to keep it simple and we are enjoying doing that, which is why we are having a good run at the moment.”
Mogaila added that one of their strengths was the principle of loyalty which ran through the side, with everyone focused on doing his job properly.
“We – the defenders and attackers – work hard for each other and there is a strong brotherhood among us.
“It’s not just about setting up and scoring goals. It’s about having a strong relationship with your defence, where they fight hard for you and you fight hard for them.
“Our defence is doing their best they can and that means we also work hard because we don’t want to let them down.”
UJ have the best defence in the competition this season, having only conceded four goals in six matches, while scoring 13.
CAPTION: University of Johannesburg’s Mokete Mogaila has been one of the star performers in the team’s unbeaten run in the Varsity Football tournament this season. Picture: Dominic Barnardt/VarsitySports