#TuksFootball: Tuks will face UFS Kovsies in the semis of the 2021 Varsity Football in Pretoria

Posted on September 26, 2021

The fable about how the tortoise has beaten the hare in a race is known by most. There are definite similarities in the journey of the Tuks men's football team to the Varsity Football semi-finals. 

Tuks is playing Kovsies at the Tuks Stadium at 18:00. UJ and TUT are playing at 16:00 on Tuesday, 28 September. A few weeks back, not many would have tipped the "Boys in Stripes" to be one of the tournament's four top teams. 

But as the tortoise did, the Tuks team never lost focus of what mattered. It is to make sure they are at their best when it matters in the Varsity Tournament. On Sunday, Tuks "put down" the defending champions, North-West University, with a 2-1 victory. 

The result means that Tuks and UJ top the log with 14 points. Both teams won four of their seven games. Kovsies is third with 12 points and TUT third with 11 points. 

According to Tuks's head coach, Nicholas Stothard, he had been on a "roller coaster of emotions" over the past seven weeks.

"I think the reason why Tuks is playing the semi-finals is because of the player's sense of character. Once they take to the field, it is all about never say die. There were often moments where the team was under real pressure. But somehow, they seem to be able to regroup and stay calm."

Conor Keylock perhaps describes it best. 

"Yesterday was a challenging game. We knew Northwest was going to come very strong at us because they needed three points. Going down 1-0 was tough, mainly because it was through a penalty. But we did not drop our heads. We carried on with the game plan. 

"Eventually, we drew level. From then on, North-West had to commit players forward. As a result, we were able to counter. It is how we scored the winning goal. 

"It was a fantastic feeling when the ball hit the back of the net as all the boys worked extremely hard to get it there. The joy and happiness in each and everyone's faces when the final whistle blew was special."

Duwy Selotola and Nhlanhla Mabaso were goal-scorers for Tuks. Blessing Mabasa was also the Player of the Match. 

Stothard is not fazed about playing Kovsies in the semi-finals despite losing 3-1 to them in the pool games. 

"I am actually glad we are playing Kovsies. I don't think we should have lost when we did. Obviously, Kovsies is an excellent team, but we want our revenge. If we continue to play the way we were playing, I am confident that we can play the final." 

Stothard said the most important thing at this stage of the Varsity Tournament is the player's health.

"I guess everyone is fatigued, and their bodies are sore and tired. So it is all about managing the players. It the 'freshest' players that will make the right decision at the right moment." 

- Author Wilhelm De Swardt

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