All roads lead to the Rembrandt Hall in Pretoria on Monday 18 September when two-time champions UP-Tuks host UJ in the final of the 2023 Varsity Netball competition. It is the first time the Orange Army has reached the final two. The match starts at 19:00.
Tuks are regarded as the favourites as they remain the only unbeaten team this year. They will also be looking to complete a double against their city neighbours, this time with much more at stake. A poor start by the Johannesburg outfit saw them loose to their final opponents and NWU, but they then bounced back to complete a six-match winning streak and reach their maiden final.
The Stripe Generation and the Orange Army have played each other ten times in Varsity Netball. Tuks have won nine times and UJ once, in 2022.
In what is set to be a story reminiscent of David and Goliath, Tuks captain Kamogelo Maseko says she will not allow her side to dwell on their sensational form.
“For us, the focus is on achieving our goals and the standard that we set out for ourselves as a team. Keeping the error rate low and playing a clinical game, the win will come in trusting our plan and capabilities as a unit.
“We will make mistakes and I guess it is part of the game, we aim for perfection in everything we do. It’s all about playing clinical and being disciplined in what we want to achieve.”
Maseko admits that in UJ, they face tough opponents.
“They want the win as much as we do but we go in every game respecting our opponents. We aim to maintain consistent performance regardless of the magnitude of the game. Our focus is not on them but we are excited to play such a passionate team and we are determined to get on the court and earn the win.
“It feels good to reach the finals, hard work feels good when it is rewarded, but it will all come down to experience and who can handle the pressure moments.”
UJ may be the underdogs going into the clash. They are however experiencing one of their best seasons ever in Varsity Netball following victories over defending champions Maties and former champions UFS-Kovsies and NWU.
Captain Cornelia Mupenda has hailed her team for their endurance.
“Reaching the final for the first time is an incredible achievement, and it’s hard to put [into] words how it feels. It’s a mix of excitement, and pride and overall, it’s an unforgettable moment for our team. What worked for us this season is us believing that we’re good enough.”
The 22-year-old Namibian sees the final as just another hurdle to overcome.
“We aim to give our best effort, stay focused and execute our game plan. Regardless of the outcome, we’re determined to enjoy the experience and continue to grow as a team.We aim to emphasize teamwork and capitalise on our strengths. Staying disciplined, maintaining composure under pressure and giving our outmost effort will be crucial to secure victory.”