After five years of struggle, UFH are finally back in the top flight with their return to the 2023 Varsity Football tournament. The university last participated in this competition in 2017. They failed to win any of their seven games, and in 630 minutes of play, they only managed two goals.
This year it is a rejuvenated Fort Hare team that will take to the field, with the entire squad, including all players as well as the coaches making their debut season. One may argue that UFH lack the necessary Varsity Football experience to compete in the competition. However, based on what have been seen in their preparations, these individuals have the passion, ambition and football brains to deliver positive outcomes for the UFH family.
Mongile Nyosana, head coach of the UFH, believes his team is properly prepared for their debut game against VUT.
“We've been training for five weeks, and the players are physically and mentally prepared, the team spirit is strong, and the players are eager to play.
“We played against VUT in the USSA tournament last year and have identified some areas where they are deficient, and obviously we are hoping to expose them in those areas only if our players execute the tactical plan properly. Although we are optimistic, the hurdles we may face in our game against VUT include stage fright, enthusiasm for the exposure, and inexperience, given that we are the underdogs in this competition.”
UFH captain Bonke Nxiwa echoes his head coach's thoughts, adding that their friendly games against Chippa United and various ABC Motsepe teams have helped them build confidence ahead of their first game against VUT.
UFH 24-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Lihle Vathu, Ngcwalisa Ngamani, Nkosiyethu Ngobe.
Defenders: Asanda Nayo, Athenkosi Dobe, Athenkosi Masiza, Bonke Nxiwa, Bungane Mbeko, Athenkosi Jezi, Snethemba Sibeko, Lubabalo Dayimani, Someleze Kapteni, Yamkela Mthembu.
Midfielders: Chuma Mhlonyane, Gcuku Bubele, Lonwabo Booi, Oko Filtane, Mandla Lengisi, Thandile Langa, Thabani Mqambeli.
Forwards: Lehlonono Thuledi, Samkelo Tshazi, Sihle Mathumbu, Sinobom Kapase.
UFH kick off their campaign against VUT on Thursday 27 July at the Davidson Stadium (18:30).
by Thembela Tangana