The talent among the Varsity Football 2019 coaches once again highlights why university football is on the rise and PSL clubs are sourcing from it – on and off the field…
WILL EXPERIENCE COUNT?
In 2018, Bushy Moloi claimed his second Varsity Football title at the helm of TUT but there was more in store for their long-serving coach. Baroka warmed to his skills and fun-loving character and duly signed him to be their assistant coach – joining the likes of Rowan Hendricks, Bradley Carnell and Evangelos Vellios as coaching ‘graduates’. At the time it looked like ending his association with Varsity Football. However, Moloi has negotiated with his bosses at the PSL Premier League club that it will be in their interests for him to remain involved with TUT. As such, Moloi immediately becomes the favourite to become the first coach to lift the Varsity Football trophy three times.
One coach who may not have such high expectations, but will find himself in the similar situation as Moloi, is Mandla Ncikazi. The new UKZN coach is, of course, also assistant coach to Steve Komphela at Lamontville Golden Arrows. Having his expertise on the bench is a fillip for the Impi. The players will get a full understanding of what is expected of them should they have ambitions of becoming professional footballers and, at the same time, the level of their play will undoubtedly improve after a rough debut season in 2018. Similarly, erstwhile coach James Mkhize (who will assist Ncikazi) can only but pick up new skills for when he is back in sole charge again.
The third Varsity Football coach who has a close connection with the pro ranks is Tlisane Motaung from UP-Tuks. He was promoted to the head coaching role in 2016 after three years assisting Vellios (who’s tied with Moloi on two titles as coach), and has gone on to have success of his own by guiding his charges to the 2017 title. At the same time, Motaung has remained part of the pipeline from the TuksFootball Academy to the University of Pretoria’s professional team – whether it’s mentoring the Under-19s or coaching the reserves in the Multichoice Diski Challenge.
A NEW BROOM MAY SWEEP CLEAN
Meanwhile, there will be three ‘freshmen’ among the Varsity Football 2019 coaches: Stanton Smith (UWC), Karabo Masehela (NWU Mafikeng) and Morethebe Modutuane (UFS).
For Modutuane, whose nickname is Queen, that is because UFS were last in tournament back in 2014 when Godfrey Tenoff (their current Football Manager) was in charge. His job will thus be to put up a good show on their return to the fray. Smith will also have his predecessor (who he assisted since 2015) around as Salie Adams has stepped up to oversee men’s and women’s football at UWC. That won’t be the case for Masehela. At 29, he is the youngest of the 2019 crop of coaches, and has the unenviable task of ending the ‘bridesmaids’ tag which NWU Mafikeng have tended to carry.
SO CLOSE, YET SO FAR…
If any team is in competition with NWU Mafikeng for that tag then it is UJ, coached by Mandla Zwane. The 46-year-old, who turned out for Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United among others in his pro career as a leftback, will be determined to bring trophy success to the Orange Army. Not least because he has two semi-final disappointments from his first three years in charge.
As it happens, CUT coach Mosai Rakometsi also has two semi-final defeats on his CV. Those came consecutively in 2016-17, but the 45-year-old then watched the 2018 Varsity Football tournament from the sidelines after his team failed to qualify. In a way, having insight from the outside in, may have been of benefit to Rakometsi and CUT (who have made significant acquisitions in Keitumetse Mabathoana and Phiwokuhle Mpalala) and they could well be the dark horses for this year’s tournament.
What price, then, that a new coach claims the 2019 title… or will the older guard show their pedigree? Let the countdown to 26 September begin!