Star power comes to Alice as UFH sign Super League mainstays

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Christelina Koekemoer has made the move from Butterworth’s Thunderbirds Ladies FC to the University of Fort Hare for the team’s debut season in the Hollywoodbets Super League. Photo: Gallo Images

 

University of Fort Hare have signed more than a dozen players with Hollywoodbets Super League experience for their debut season in South Africa’s premier women’s football competition.

The majority of the new players have arrived and are settling in well at the team’s Alice headquarters.

According to university football officer Mazeli Feni they range from newer kids on the block to mid-career professionals.

“Most of the new players are already training with us. We are only waiting for three or four to arrive.”

He said it was crucial to have an injection of players who had tasted Super League football before to enable UFH to be competitive.

Every position from goalkeeper to striker was now covered in the squad of 35, he said.

“I believe we are ready to compete against the big guns.”

The players have been lured to UFH after stints at some of the country’s biggest clubs, including the University of Cape Town, Santos, University of Pretoria and Copperbelt.

Playing personnel is not the only area where the varsity is ahead of the game this preseason. Off the pitch, new coaching rooms and a clubhouse have been built.

And, in a further boost for the club, Fort Hare’s playing surface on campus was given the green light by a visiting Super Leage facilities inspector this week.

“We met all the requirements in terms of hosting games. Everything was in place when he arrived here,” Feni said.

Fort Hare are well aware of the herculean task that lies in waiting.

As first-timers in the competition they will need to come to terms with the pace and playing styles of their opponents, most of whom are league mainstays.

“It’s definitely a learning curve for us. It’s a must that we learn from other teams,” Feni said.

To this end he has been sounding out colleagues at other football universities to guide UFH as they take their first steps on this historic journey.

He had also been in contact with Super League teams in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to arrange a mini preseason tournament. Among these is Royal AM, fifth-place finisher in last season’s championship.

Feni was expecting these fixtures to be finalised soon.

UFH earned their place in the elite competition through stunning performances in the second-tier Sasol League last year.

After dominating the coastal stream and the provincial playoff they then went all the way in the national finals, beating much-fancied Lindelani Ladies in a tense penalty shootout to claim the crown.

The 14 recruits unveiled this week are: Lindokuhle Duntsu (Copperbelt); Christelina Koekemoer (Thunderbirds); Yonela Keto (Coal City Wizards); Thompson Olona (WSU); Ameera Daniels (Golden Stars); Kesha Hendricks (UCT); Amanda Nteyi (City Lads); Roschni Fleur (NMU); Sinazo Ntlokinendaba (UP); Genevieve Adams (City Lads); Qaqamba Ngqangashe (City Lads); Zandile Mxasa (Santos); Asemahle Ndobo (Sophakama); and Bamanye Nkunjana (Mighty Kids).

 

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