Fort Hare happy to play slow and steady to win the race

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Centreback Qhayiya Godini, left, and central midfielder Thembela Tangana have been hard at work on the training ground ahead of Fort Here's match against UJ in Johannesburg.

 

Fort Hare are prepared to bide their time for their first win in FNB Varsity Football.

While they may be three points adrift of the University of Johannesburg, their opponents for today, they are in no hurry to change the strategy that has served them well in the past two games.

After a shaky 2-0 home defeat to VUT in their campaign opener, they have come back strongly to secure two draws, one of which was on the road against CUT last week.

Fort Hare coach Mongile Nyosana believes patience will bring reward.

“This tournament is still wide open. If you win one game, you go to fourth on the table. If you win two games, you go to the semifinals,” he explained.

“We are prepared to be patient. We don’t know when the win will come but I believe it will.”

The UJ clash would be the second of three away matches on the bounce for Fort Hare, which Nyosana said further justified playing the waiting game.

The last thing the team want is to concede goals and then have to play catch-up football, especially when vital log points are on the line.

“At the moment we are protecting the ball in our own half. We do have attacking options but this is what’s working. We are creating more chances each and every game.”

UJ come into today's match on the back of one win and two draws. As Varsity Football mainstays, they will present a big – if not insurmountable – challenge.

Fort Hare are expecting the 90 minutes to be played at high intensity since the students from Jozi are renowned for going forward.

“We are going to try to match them in terms of passing,” Nyosana said.

“This week we have been working on our combination play in the middle when we are going forward. Defensively we have been spot-on so there’s no problem there.”

 Inspired by the men at the back, UFH were particularly impressive in defence against CUT, shifting and marking their opponents as a collective.

In terms of attack, they have recognised that UJ’s goalkeeper likes to come off his line, presenting a golden opportunity to turn and shoot – another drill seen extensively on the training ground this week.

The side were in a good space mentally and would not be intimidated by UJ, the coach added.

While playing three consecutive games away from home was tough, his charges were proving they had what it took to compete on the road.

Nyosana was aware that his team were no longer being viewed as tournament pushovers, with the UFS telling them as much after their home encounter earlier in the competition.

“I am very proud. We are happy as coaches,” he said.

He praised captain Bonke Nxiwa for the way in which he had stood up to the challenges of Varsity Football. Having mentored him since 2021, he had never seen him play as well as right now.

He also thanked the university’s governors, who even travelled to Bloemfontein last week to watch the game against CUT, for their support.