Fort Hare’s men’s football team clinched the inaugural Alice Football Association League Cup after overcoming a stern test in the first quarter of the final played in the Eastern Cape town at the weekend.
After initially struggling to break the defensive lines of Future Stars, they drew first blood. However, the eventual runners-up equalised shortly afterwards to get back on an even keel.
The university then started to find their rhythm in attack and rammed in three goals in quick succession to take a 4-1 lead into the break.
With a three-goal buffer, it was up to Fort Hare’s defence to keep the game out of reach of their opponents in the second half and they proved impenetrable from that point onwards.
Although the margin against Future Stars suggested otherwise, coach Mongile Nyosana admitted this week that it had been a proper test of character.
“The game was very tough to manage in the beginning as they played with a flat four at the back and we struggled to penetrate that line,” he explained.
All in all, the team had been exceptional both in defence and attack, which Nyosana believed were the two pieces of the puzzle that helped solve the Future Stars problem.
Playing a starring role within the team dynamic was midfielder Tangana Thembela, whose distribution of the ball to both flanks kept Fort Hare prodding forward.
“He was our player of the match,” noted the coach.
Fort Hare’s Sinobom Kapase found the back of the net nine times in nine matches to finish as the tournament’s top goal-scorer.
Nyosana was delighted with the result and felt it would boost the confidence of the players as they prepared for a host of important competitions over the next few months.
These include the SAB League, Nedbank Cup and University Sport South Africa tournament. But first, they will get another chance to take a step forward when they run out in the Charity Cup, hosted by the King of Glory Foundation, in East London this weekend.
Thirty-two teams competed in the regional tournament, a new initiative by the Alice Local Football Association (LFA).
“The LFA did an excellent job in putting on this competition,” said Nyosana. “It will really help with the development of football in the area.”
The team’s victory shows that they are steadily maturing as a unit. Their previous success came in the Top 8 in July last year and a couple of weeks ago they were third in a tournament in Peddie.
“This means we are growing bit by bit,” said their mentor, whose number one goal was to develop the sport at Fort Hare by targeting greater consistency.