Following their second title last year, UJ is coming into the 2023 Women’s Varsity Football tournament as red-hot favourites.
The Johannesburg-based team’s squad has a good mixture of experienced players and youngsters who have already played in several games as preparation for this year’s tournament that gets underway on Friday 11 August.
"The camp has been good, the mood is great. The girls have gelled well together and brought about combinations that we can use for our coming games. A lot of hard work and long hours still being put on at training and we aren't relaxed yet, just finalising the last touches to get us into the groove," says UJ head coach Nthabeleng "Dunga" Modiko.
With a renewed interest in football following Banyana Banyana’s success at the World Cup, this year’s Varsity Cup competition is expected to be a thrilling one.
UJ will have to do without the services of former captain Refilwe Maseko and goalkeeper Elizabeth Mazivise who have graduated. Youngsters like Yolanda Nduli, Lusanda Mavundla, Sbonga Mzobe and Matshediso Masebe are set to get their chance to shine.
According to Modiko, the young players are always hard-working, full of creativity and new ideas. Their approach and style of play should not be too far from last year's with a flair of good football and pure joy to play and to watch, says Modiko.
"Well, this year should be bigger than the last. We want our fans and families to be proud of us and whenever we go out on this campaign, we want to do and win everything. We have been working hard to perfect our strengths and minimise our weaknesses and I think the UJ team will benefit greatly from this fact.”
Although last year the spotlight was on the Shamase twins, this year is different as all eyes will be on Ayesha Moosa, Shannon Macomo, Kabelo Mokoena and Yolanda Nduli who have been having a wonderful season.
All three, besides Yolanda, were part of the 2022 Varsity Cup squad and are most likely going to be the standout players. Modiko says their experience will undoubtedly be key for the UJ team this year.
"The Orange Army fans are our heartbeat. We will do our all to make them proud, we want to defend our title as a gift to them. We saw how happy and joyous they were last year when we lifted it. We promise to play the best brand of football and give them goals to celebrate.”
Defenders: Lerato Lefa, Atlegang Mogale, Botiumelo Rasehlo, Kabelo Mokoena, Yolanda Nduli, Lungile Khumalo, Nokuthula Sekhukhune, Sithabile Xulu, Kholiwe Tabohane, Queen Ntsoelikane.
Midfielders: Shandile Msomi, Sthembile Sandleni, Shakeerah Jacobs, Sbongakonke Mzobe, Shannon Macoma.
Forwards: Ayesha Moosa, Lusanda Mavundla, Masego Maselane, Lesego Nhlapho, Boipelo Tlandinyana.
Goalkeepers: Bontle Hobyane, Matshidiso Masebe.
by Gontse Hlophe