Following a 2-1 loss against long-time rivals TUT at the inaugural Varsity Football double header, NWU Mafikeng will be happy for home comforts in Round 4.
The electric atmosphere at Tuks Stadium was a fantastic catalyst for a great match-up between the NWU and TUT in Round 3. The Noble Boys fought gamely, and arguably gave the title favourites their toughest games of the season to date – only conceding a long-range cracker and from a fortuitous goalmouth scramble – before suffering defeat.
This Thursday, NWU will get their chance of ‘going again’ against Tshwane-based opponents, but in their own fortress and a team more damaged by their own double-header defeat.
“Mental strength is what we need master if we are to make it past UP-Tuks after our loss in the past week,” believes NWU coach Karabo Masehela.
That, also, is the consideration before looking at the Varsity Football history between the two teams – which makes for underwhelming reading if you’re a Noble Boys supporter.
In seven previous clashes, NWU is yet to win. In truth, but for last year’s 2-0 loss, it’s always been a closely fought contest. Their have been three draws, and UP-Tuks’ three other wins have been via a penalty shootout in the 2014 semi-final, an NWU own goal in the 2013 semi-final and a similar 1-0 margin in their inaugural meeting early that year.
This time, however, NWU find themselves three places above 7th-placed UP-Tuks, with the opportunity of severely denting their visitors’ semi-final hopes in front of their Purple Army.
“Playing at home allows us the opportunity to close rank against any threat, focus our game and get back in control of our game of play,” concludes Masehela confidently.
Masehela reports that there are no injuries in his camp – despite wingbacks Kananelo Motsoeneng and Lesego Motsepe as well as goalkeeper Kagiso Ramadivhane needing treatment last week – but may need a player like Simphiwe Mlangeni to come to the party against UP-Tuks. The 24-year-old has already scored two goals this campaign and hopes more is in the offing to help his team’s cause.
“The two goals I scored are more of a team effort,” Mlangeni says.
“We are looking forward to scoring more goals as a team, so if I score another goal it will be good for the whole team.”
Kick-off for Thursday’s game at NWU-Mafikeng Stadium is at 18:15 and will be televised live on SuperSport 4. Tickets for the game are available for just R10 if you use the Varsity Sports App, downloadable from the Apple App Store on iOS devices or from the Google Play store for Android users.
By Phenyo Mokgothu