Two rounds of Varsity Football have been played and things have yet to click for a new-look UWC, which might have something to do with Phiwokuhle Mpalala’s departure.
As it happens, Mpalala will return to UWC’s ‘Operation Room’ on Thursday, but in CUT colours.
In truth, the 24-year-old marksman would be the last person UWC coach Stanton Smith and his side would want to see. ‘Shakes’, as Mpalala is known amongst his peers and teammates, became Varsity Football’s all-time joint-leading goalscorer in Round 2 against UKZN and fate seems to have decided that the record needs to be broken against the team he scored 11 of his current 12 goals for.
“I am excited, I can’t hide it and my teammates [at CUT] can see that,” Mpalala tells varsitysportssa.com before the crucial Round 3 game.
“UWC is very close to my heart and I never imagined that one day I will be facing them as an opposition. I made great memories there, scored many goals and made friends,” he adds.
Mpalala, of course, knows full well the importance of continuing what he started at UWC with CUT, who he joined because it’s closer to his hometown of Petrusville. The Free Staters currently sit in the top four with the three points gained from their dramatic 3-1 victory over UKZN.
“At CUT we have been pushing each other for this encounter. We have been preparing for this game since Saturday after our trip to UKZN. I understand the magnitude of this game but for me, it’s just to go out the and carry out my coaches instructions very calmly.”
Mpalala won the Varsity Football tournament in 2015 and also holds a B.Ed. degree from his time at the Bellville-based institution. His ex-team will be hoping for a huge morale boost – considering they’re currently on 0 points from their two matches, when they face him and his new teammates. This clash could thus make or break their campaign, as a loss will not be a good result.
“UWC is a powerhouse in Varsity Football, especially when they play at home in front of their beautiful fans while I believe Coach Stanton has assembled a great side, which consists of talented players,” Mpalala says.
“We have coaches that are always pushing us to be better and are very big on making sure that we improve. We have set ourselves goals as a team and we have been working hard in ensuring that we achieve them. All I can say is that we are prepared and ready for Thursday.”
One of the talking points of Thursday’s match will be whether Mpalala can become lone top goal scorer overtaking Jerry Nkwana, formerly of UP-Tuks. He, though, is determined for that not to be his focus.
“I am proud of myself, I welcome the two minutes of fame and for that, I have to give thanks to UWC as I achieved that feat whilst in their books. The coaches and my former teammates helped me a lot whilst I was there. I just want to score more goals and becoming the Varsity Football top marksman will be great and hopefully, I get an opportunity to realise my dream of being a professional player,” he concludes.
Tickets for the game, which kicks off at 18:30, 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 Dumisani Koyana