Fort Hare confirmed their status as serious title contenders when they outplayed Bay Stars to bag their second Sasol Women’s League match 5-0 in Gqeberha at the weekend.
This result follows their victory in the opening match of the season against Madibaz, also in Nelson Mandela Bay, which suggests that they are as comfortable away from home as in a more familiar environment.
In fact, with their next match being against Phoenix in Komani, their first three matches in the Coastal stream of the competition are away fixtures.
Coach Asanda Mnakaniso was well aware of the challenges it presented.
“As it is our third game on the road there is a bit of a test because we have to travel about three hours to get to the venues. But it is what it is and we are always focused on what lies ahead.”
Following their latest win, he felt they were on track for a maximum return of nine points from their first three starts.
“So far we have six from two and have scored 10 goals and conceded only one. This is a very promising start.”
The one predicament the Fort Hare coach is grappling with is the stop-start nature of their programme.
Their first game was followed by a two-week break and the next, against Phoenix, has been moved from this Saturday to April 16 because of Easter.
“These breaks are a bit disruptive because any team need consistent game time to build up and keep their momentum,” he explained. “This sort of delay is killing that, but we will discipline ourselves to manage it.”
One way of doing that was to release players to go home for some respite, said Mnakaniso.
“Especially those who have been with us since the camp on January 21. They will rejoin the team on Sunday for the afternoon session.”
He said their preparation for the Bay Stars encounter had been good as they had met them on five previous occasions, which kept the guesswork to a minimum.
“We have generally done well against them. The closest game between us was in 2021 when we won 2-1.
“We are familiar with their pattern of play and they also lost four quality players to Sophakama during the transfer window.”
Fort Hare’s triumph was again based on their attack and defence gelling well.
“We scored our first goal in the first three minutes and spent a lot of time on attack in their half, giving their goalkeeper plenty to do.”
Mnakaniso said the university’s attacking players were very aware of what they needed to do, which was to create chances to score goals. This is backed up by a solid defensive department.