Seven Varsity Football alumni will miss a portion of preseason with their PSL clubs, only because they’ve earned selection for the USSA Men’s Football team.
Instead of running up hills, doing a battery of tests and early morning gym sessions, they will be headed to Naples, Italy in July for the 30th Summer Universiade.
Baroka duo Sikhumbuzo Ncube and Vusi Sibiya are the most high-profile of the players named in the national students team to be coached by Karabo Mogudi (UJ) and Godfrey Tenoff (UFS). They became full-time professionals soon after helping TUT win their third Varsity Football title last year.
Last year’s tournament also saw 20-year-old Philakahle Dlamini impress so much in UKZN colours that he was picked for the national Under-20 team, before the Social Science student has even graduated from Lamontville Golden Arrows’ reserves to first team.
The University of Pretoria, meanwhile, will prepare for the next National First Division without three of their players. Instead, stalwart Varsity Football player Simbongile Njokwe (who’s been doing a Honours in Sport and Recreation) as well as Mogau Khwinana and Thabang Chuene will be expected to bring their experience to the students team midfield and attack.
In Renaldo Leaner’s case, this offseason is his first as a fully-fledged professional player after Ajax Cape Town promoted the UWC star in April ahead of the 2019-20 season. Before rejoining the Urban Warriors, the B.Ed student will be in a tussle for the USSA team’s number 1 jersey with Ncube.
The football tournament at the Summer Universiade will take place between 2-13 July. Team South Africa will be one of 12 nations aiming to win gold following the final.
Full USSA Men’s Squad (2018 Varsity Football players in bold): Thabang Chuene, Mogau Khwinana, Simbongile Njokwe (all UP-Tuks), Philakhle Dlamini (UKZN), Tebogo Galane, Kavendree Makhene, Siyabulela Mosiea, McCoy Sithole (all NWU-Vaal), Renaldo Leaner (UWC), Thabiso Lebitso, Tumelo Mphela, Sikhumbuzo Ncube, Lebogang Phatlane, Rorisang Rapeleng, Vusi Sibiya (all TUT), Saluleko Mathonsi, Kurt Pienaar (both Wits), Mpho Mogorosi, Lindani Nkabinde (both NWU-Mafikeng), Craig Walters (Maties)
Technical staff: Karabo Mogudi (Head coach), Godfrey Tenoff (Assistant coach), Lerato Mokae (Team leader)