Storm blows in from east as UFH aim to deny Capetonians

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Fort Hare captain Bonke Nxiwa has been inspirational in this year’s FNB Varsity Football tournament. Photo: Varsity Sports


Despite this week’s FNB Varsity Football matchup against the University of the Western Cape being Fort Hare’s third consecutive game on the road, they are as determined as ever to make the playoffs.

While their 3-1 away loss to the University of Johannesburg last week came on the back of a few silly mistakes, they held their own for large parts of the fixture.

Their preparation was not helped by an internal booking issue at UJ that left them without a training facility after their 10-hour journey from the Eastern Cape.

It meant they had little opportunity to acclimatise to the conditions prior to kick-off.

However, there were no excuses for giving up their 1-0 advantage courtesy of a Sinobom Kapase goal and ultimately losing the match, coach Mongile Nyosana said.

“We made too many mistakes. All three of their goals came from mistakes,” he said.

“We were losing the ball in our own zone when you need to play in the opponents’ half.”

Despite that setback, which followed two impressive draws against quality opposition, Nyosana was adamant his side could still progress past the group stage.

Though UFH are tied bottom with Central University of Technology on two points, a total of nine points are up for grabs in their next three matches.

Should they win those games on the bounce, they would very much be in the running for a top-four finish.

“That’s why I say the playoffs are still open for anyone,” Nyosana said.

UWC, their hosts at 3pm on Thursday, currently lie fifth on the log and have delivered a mixed bag this season – winning won, losing one and drawing two.

That said, their lone victory came against second-placed TUT last week and they will be full of confidence against Fort Hare at their Mother City fortress.

UFH will, however, take heart from the fact that the Capetonians lost to UFS-Kovsies – a team they held to a one-all draw – and drew with CUT just as Fort Hare did a fortnight ago.

Nyosana acknowledged UWC were a good team and had a lot of pace out wide thanks to their wings, but his side had planned accordingly this week.

He found that they had adapted to the high tempo of Varsity Football but was now calling on his players to show courage for the remainder of the tournament.

The coach understood that travelling week-in and week-out was tiring, particularly when the students went back to their lectures and assignments between games and training.

For this reason, he was pleased that their final two matches of the competition were at home. Playing away in different parts of the country three weeks in a row would be taxing on anyone, he said.

For the moment, all their focus was on UWC and returning to Alice with the three points needed to keep them in the hunt.

“I still have faith in us as a team and we are working hard,” he said.

“Our mindset is still very much about making the playoffs.”