FNB Varsity Football win will build precious momentum for Fort Hare

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Fort Hare coach Mongile Nyasana believes one Varsity Cup win will do wonders for his team’s confidence.
Photo: Full Stop Communications


There’s still plenty to play for in Fort Hare’s final Varsity Football match in Alice this afternoon.

Were the team to beat fifth-placed North-West University, not only would they get their first win of the tournament but the confidence they have lacked since the Free State University game would flow back in waves.

In addition, the University Sports South Africa (USSA) competition later this season doubles as a Varsity Football qualifier for 2024 and a victory will be a timely reminder of just what they can do on the pitch.

For these reasons and more, coach Mongile Nyasana is backing his players to rise to the occasion.

After a highly promising start to their first campaign in five years, Fort Hare have fallen away in recent games.

They gave away “cheap” goals which means the scoreboard often did not reflect the good work the players were doing.

Nyasana pointed to the UFS game as a “turning point”, in that Fort Hare should have buried the Free Staters to claim the three points.

“We lacked confidence after that game, even though we drew with CUT (Central University of Technology) away,” he said.

“We actually played our best game against UWC (University of the Western Cape) but gave away goals cheaply.

 “They just kicked the ball and scored. I don’t know what the problem was there.”

That said, it is clear that UFH belong at Varsity Football level. Had it not been for silly mistakes some of the results could have been very different.

The tournament has been a sharp learning curve for the university. Ahead of today’s fixture they lie bottom of the log on two points.

 However, a win against NWU today will see them leapfrog CUT into seventh place, provided that team lose their Bloemfontein derby against UFS.

 With the USSAs and the chance to qualify again for Varsity Football already front of mind, it was important Fort Hare performed well against NWU, Nyasana said.

 “This one win would mean a lot for us.”

 Varsity Football was a high-profile tournament and they had experienced firsthand what level was needed to make an impact, the coach said.

 “If we qualify again next year, we won’t make the mistakes we’ve made this year.”

 Defeating their upcountry visitors will also give the team momentum ahead of next month’s Nedbank tournament in the Raymond Mhlaba municipal region.

 Not that the coach is underestimating their opponents. In fact, he praised them as one of the most beautiful teams to watch given their excellent passing game.

 In addition, NWU are a team who “knew their identity”.

 “We will be ready for them though. One thing we’ve noticed is that they don’t like being marked hard, so we will need to be aggressive during the game.

 “We are also playing at home again. We are always happier at home.”

 Many lessons had been learnt this year, among them that unity was such an important part of building a winning culture, he said.

 That’s why every team member should contribute and “play hard for the badge”.