The levels of excitement in the UJ camp for the 2023 Varsity Football tournament have reached fever pitch with “the boys” eager to get out on the field and prove they are a force to be reckoned once again with over the coming weeks.
This is according to captain Neo Lebopa.
"We can’t wait for the tournament to start. The mood has been great in camp, and everyone is fighting really hard to make the team. This level of competitiveness keeps everyone on their toes and out of their comfort zones. Like they say, ‘iron sharpens iron’.”
Lebopa says fans can expect a more competitive, more consistent, more united, more resilient and more thrilling UJ team this year.
“The majority of the squad is still the same as the one from the previous campaign. I believe the coaches have also done a good job with bringing in a few new recruits and then there are some exciting youngsters from our second team.
"I don’t think there’ll be much of a difference from last year, we have a specific way of playing and we look to always stick to our identity and culture here at UJ. Of course, some games may require a different approach, it depends on who we face on the day.”
The Orange Army goes into this year’s competition riding a wave of success that started in 2021 when they were crowned the Varsity Football champions, the University Sport South Africa (USSA) champions in 2022 and most recently promotion to the ABC Motsepe League.
Head coach Karabo Mogudi says the consistent hard work put in by the technical team has always been the biggest strength in their preparations.
"It was a great achievement to be promoted to the ABC Motsepe League because we played against five regional champions in Sedibeng, Tshwane, Mogale City, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg. This is a huge confidence boost for the boys going into the 2023 FNB Varsity Football campaign.”
UJ 24-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Richard Lona Banga, Tshegofatso Mathekga, Lungelo Sithole.
Defenders: Karabo Modisane, Eathan Coetzee, Ngwako Ramaloko, Neo Lebopa, Thabo Moshikere, Maselesele Makoti.
Midfielders: Ntokozo Mathobela, Nkgo Masehla, Advocate Mokwena, Tshepiso Dube, Kuhlula Mathebula, Mongezi Mncube, Puleng Bapela, Tumelo Molubi, Philane Masondo, Thanda Madiba.
Forwards: Siphosihle Nkambule, Sanele Ndlalane, Tokoloho Vilakazi, Malik Mashinini, Trevor Nkwashu.
UJ kick off their campaign against NWU Mafikeng on Thursday 27 July at the NWU Mafikeng Stadium (17:00).
by Gontse Hlophe