The University of Johannesburg are fired up to launch their Varsity Football challenge next week, determined to avoid the pain of last year’s narrow loss in the final.

Runners-up to Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) a year ago, UJ soccer manager Joel Kgokong said they did not want to go through that again and would be looking for a good start on July 27.

UJ open their campaign against Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein, looking to build their confidence by repeating the win they had in the corresponding fixture last year.

Kgokong said the loss in the 2016 final was a hard lesson in the team’s learning curve.

“This time we don’t want history to repeat itself,” he said. “From the technical staff to the players, they don’t want to go through the same pain they experienced last year.

“This time we have placed a big focus on again reaching the play-offs, but we understand that to end up in the final, we have start well and prove ourselves in the seven matches during the league phase.”

Kgokong said their preparations were on track even though they suffered “a few knocks in the Ussa tournament”.

“Everyone will be ready for the first game against CUT as we look for a strong start to the tournament.”

Although UJ have not won any titles this year, the UJ soccer manager was not overly concerned.

“Last year we won several competitions, but then missed out on the big one.

“So this year we have placed a lot of focus on Varsity Football and we will be looking to some of our experienced players, led by captain Dane Fortuin, to show the way.”

Kgokong said it would be important to finish high on the log to try to secure a home venue for the semifinals, and a possible final.

“You could see last year when TUT hosted the final how their supporters came through for them.

“We want to make sure we have good back-up in the form of the 12th player – the fans.”

He left no doubt of the rivalry which existed with their northern rivals, TUT and University of Pretoria (Tuks).

“Those are the teams that we really want to beat,” said Kgokong. “There is always strong competition with them and if we can dethrone them, that would be very nice.”

The experienced Dane Fortuin will lead the University of Johannesburg squad in the Varsity Football competition which kicks off on July 27. Photo: Saspa

Issued by: Full Stop Communications