UKZN have been luckless, so far, during their second Varsity Football campaign, but their fortunes could still change quickly.
UKZN currently find themselves at the foot of the Varsity Football table, with things being anything but #iyachesa for them and second-placed UFS awaiting them on Thursday.
Despite being 2018 USSA champions, the Impis are still to find a consistent level of excellence in Varsity Football with only a single victory – against UL – and two draws two show for their first nine games in the tournament.
A change in fortunes is not out of reach for the students from the Zulu Kingdom, though, with these lessons perhaps all it takes to find their groove:
1. STEP UP, OR STEP OUT!
UKZN’s squad has been touted for having young and genuinely talented players who have done well in various competitions. An example being composed defender Siphamandla ‘Major’ Sosibo, who helped USSA when they won the SAB League National Championship last year, as well as Philakahle Dlamini and Bhekabambo Mkhize who both have PSL Reserve League experience.
Take nothing away from the young players in the Impi camp, for they have played their hearts out, but they need all their teammates to rally together because at present they have been found wanting in crucial moments.
For UKZN to progress and compete for the top four in Varsity Football, they will need their best players to be consistent and the others to also step up a level.
2. IT’S THE RESULTS THAT COUNT!
If there was to be an award for the most unfortunate team in the seventh edition of Varsity Football, then it would take some misfortune for another team to wrestle it away from UKZN.
Critics would look at zero points after two games, with a minus-three goal difference, as evidence that the team from KwaZulu-Natal won’t better their lowly debut Varsity Football showing in 2018. That would be misleading, however, even if their opponents to date have been NWU Mafikeng, who failed to reach the semi-finals in 2018, and returnees CUT.
In the season-opener against NWU in Mafikeng, UKZN conceded – heartbreakingly – in the referee’s optional time after holding the home side, one-all, for almost the entire second half.
As it happened, in the second round against CUT the game was once again one-all when the fourth official put up the board for optional time. This time, UKZN’s opponents netted two goals – literally after the 95th minute. Unsurprisingly, the vociferous crowd at Howard College Stadium were silenced as the Bloemfontein side ran out 3-1 winners. A second heartbreaking result for the home team.
But, as painful as it is, the Impi squad will need to have learnt their lesson going into Round 3 that a game is only over when the final whistle is blown, as it’s only then that the result counts.
3. NEVER GIVE UP
While their slow start to this season might demoralize them, Varsity Football history shows that persisting can lead to success.
In 2014, the second season of Varsity Football, UP-Tuks were defending their title but suffered two surprising and disappointing defeats against UWC and UJ. They lost 2-1 to UWC and were surprisingly whipped 4-0 by UJ. However, they still went on to defend their title.
Not too dissimilarly, it took three seasons for the mighty TUT ‘Red Machine’, with their charismatic coach Bushy Moloi, to win their first ever Varsity Football title in 2016.
UKZN can also look to their resilient performance against UWC in Round 5 last year. Then, they managed to grab their first point following a series of defeats and were 3-1 down against UWC. The match ended in a dramatic three-all draw, with UKZN collecting their first ever point in Varsity Football.
By Mpendulo Letsoalo