Warm-ups show UFH won’t be Super League pushovers

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Sasol League national champions Fort Hare enter new territory on Saturday when they get their historic Hollywoodbets Super League campaign underway against TUT Matsatsantsa Ladies FC. Photo: Sasol League

 

After a positive pre-competition warm-up campaign, the members of the University of Fort Hare’s all-conquering women’s football team can sleep easier ahead of their historic Hollywoodbets Super League debut this weekend.

During this time, UFH held their own against Super League mainstays and tasted some success in a mini-tournament in Durban just over a week ago.

In Alice, on Saturday, they had the better of the Northern Cape’s Richmond United Ladies FC in one of three 45-minute “halves” the clubs used to test different combinations.

The first ended in a 2-2 draw with Fort Hare winning the second 2-0 and losing the third 3-0 – good numbers against the team who placed seventh in the Super League last season.

Coach Asanda Mnakaniso said their trip to Durban had done wonders for their confidence as their opening game against Matsatsantsa Ladies FC at home on Saturday loomed.

The team did not make the best of starts in KwaZulu-Natal, suffering a 1-3 defeat to Durban Ladies (eighth in 2023).

From that point onwards, however, they started playing the kind of football that saw them being crowned Sasol League champions.

They rallied to beat fellow newcomers Lindelani Ladies 3-2 while running Royal AM, fifth last year, close in a 1-2 defeat.

Mnakaniso said that while it was only natural to respect the Super League regulars, he was thrilled to see his charges getting “stronger and stronger” and leaving Durban “feeling a lot more confident”.

TUT Matsatsantsa, 10th last year, will present a formidable challenge following the university’s ground-breaking merger with football colossus SuperSport United last June.

Even though the task in 2024 is immense, the team’s progress, especially concerning integrating their 14 new signings, augured well for the road ahead.

Mnakaniso was clear on their mandate as they prepared for their first rodeo among the country’s elite.

“We are not expected to be among the top finishers, but are out to retain our position in the Super League.

“And I believe the squad we have will take us through this first year. I think we will have some positive results.”

Those who were part of last season’s triumphant Sasol League team have welcomed the newcomers on board in support of the coach’s efforts to beef up the squad with Super League experience.

“They are making it easier for us as coaches,” an appreciative Mnakaniso said.

In addition to preparing the team, he has been commuting to Limpopo and back to attend classes for his B-licence, a requirement of all head coaches in South Africa’s professional ranks. And that has been going well, he said.

 

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