Wits University will be involved in their fourth Varsity Football campaign when the 2018 season gets underway on the 26th of July against debutants UKZN in Durban.
The Johannesburg outfit this season will be led out by a new captain in Tshireletso Motsogi, who will look to help the team improve on the way their season ended in last year’s edition, which saw the Witsies underperform by their standards and ability. The Witsies’ first tournament involvement came in 2013, where they struggled from the onset, finishing their campaign seventh on the log, this then automatically meant they failed to progress through to the knockout phase of the tournament.
The 2014 season then saw Wits fail to qualify for the tournament due to falling short of the qualifying positions in the log standings at the conclusion of the USSA national club championships leading up to the 2014 Varsity Football season.
In 2015, Wits returned with a different mindset and goals for the tournament, when at the USSA club championships in 2014 they improved on their previous disaster season by finishing in fourth place which in turn led to automatic qualification this time around.
Last season then saw Wits bring out their best performances in the tournament since its inception, when they fared much better than their previous stint. The improved performances in the 2015 season led to them qualifying for the knockout phase of the tournament for the very first time, where they were defeated by eventual champions UWC in a mouth-watering semi-final that had to be decided by a penalty shootout. 2016 and 2017 was more or less the same but the side failed once more to reach their target of securing the Varsity Football title.
The 2018 season, however, sees the Witsies bring fresh minds to the team that will be looking to do better under the leadership of coach Mark Haskins, who brings a wealth of experience through previously playing in the PSL for Moroka Swallows, SuperSport United and Bidvest Wits amongst other clubs in his decorated professional career.
The new recruits are Kal Laing (who also plays for the Kaizer Chiefs Multichoice Diski Challenge team), Sandile Mbatha (a former NWU-Mafikeng player), Clinton Mphahlele (who won the Varsity Football title with UP-Tuks last season), Markus Lecki (played PSL with Bidvest Wits and NFD for Stellenbosch FC), and Lerotholi Manala (played for Brondby in Denmark). This group is definitely exciting on paper but they will of course be supported by some of the older more experienced players, who have been in the Wits side since its debut season in Varsity Football.
Some of the other great achievements the Witsies have picked up outside Varsity Football, has been Saluleko Mathonsi being invited by Thabo Senong to the SA U/20 camp in April, Matthew Carelse playing for Bidvest Wits in the PSL and as well as becoming their third choice in the process. Waylon Rooi was also named in the top five in Africa of the Nike Chance competition, and at the same time plying his trade for the Kaizer Chiefs Multichoice Diski Challenge team.
This season’s Wits team indeed has a different feel about them, with supporters definitely expecting more from their side with the new signings bringing plenty of valuable experience to the table at different levels. They will be one of the sides to watch out for in this season’s campaign.
Make sure to catch this exciting Wits team, when they lock horns with Varsity Football new boys UKZN in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday evening, with more action also coming your way on SuperSport as the tournament gets underway.
By Sifiso Nyawo