The Varsity Football action for this week sees Wits University sit this one out with a bye. However, the Witsies, although with no real chance of making into semi-final stages of the tournament, will look to make themselves and their faithful fans proud, when they play out their last two games of this season’s campaign at the Bidvest Wits Stadium.
The last two clashes will take place next week Monday and Thursday. The boys in yellow will take on the high flying Tshwane university of Technology on Monday and the University of Fort Hare on Thursday evening.
The last time TUT locked horns with Wits was in last season’s campaign of Varsity Football in Pretoria, where the Witsies may have felt a little hard done by, when they lost in the dying minutes of the game to a very controversial penalty which led the home side to a vital 2-1 win. The game itself however, was fairly contested by the two teams, with both having a fair share of opportunities but the resulting penalty at the end of the proved to be the difference.
This time around Wits will have the advantage of playing in their own backyard, in front of their own supporters, without a tough crowd to deal with in front of their playing pressures. The Witsies will also be boosted by the return of two key players in midfielder Mahle Mtabane and centre-back and captain Kaizer Maphanga, who are due to arrive in South Africa on Thursday afternoon according to Wits team manager Sanele Nene.
When Varsity Sports caught up with coach Mark Haskins, the head coach explained how much of an impact the absence of Mahle Mtabane and Kaizer Maphanga had on the team but he felt it was a great learning experience for them as a coaching staff and the young players that came in to fill the big boots left by the two seniors in the team.
“Yeah, I mean losing players of that caliber, our vice-captain and captain, did have an impact because they play a big role within the team, so we did definitely miss them. But having said that, it was an opportunity for other guys to step up but unfortunately we fell short, so they did leave a big hole and I guess some youngsters came in to replace them. But I think it’s a learning curve for all of us, as coaches and the players that came in, we need to know not to base our plans around one or two players, especially as they may not always be there,” said Haskins.
“We also know we fell short in other departments and those are things we know we need to work on, in order to improve.”
Outside of Varsity Football, Wits were in fact the last team to beat TUT, at the USSA tournament earlier this year, so they will be full of confidence that they can repeat that feat once more, especially because they will now be playing for pride and looking for a better finish to the season.
Be sure to also come down to the Bidvest Stadium on the East Campus at Wits University to catch the Witsies as they look to better their season against the log leaders TUT.
By Sifiso Nyawo