UFH - Football - Mayozi Tournament - Siphuxolo Tomase

Momentum is with Fort Hare ahead of their return to the FNB Varsity Football competition after a five-year absence.

The team’s come-from-behind 2-1 win against Young Attackers at the university campus on Sunday saw them place third in this year’s Mazoyi tournament in Alice.

Making their victory in the playoff for third and fourth even sweeter is that for the past three weeks their focus has been on strength and conditioning rather than ground skills.

Coach Mongile Nyosana was thrilled that his charges were able to overcome stiffness to secure the win and put them in the right frame of mind for the massive challenge to come in Varsity Football.

“We played a very good match. We have been doing conditioning so when we came to the game the guys were sore,” he said.

“But I was pleased with our aggression in everything we did, getting the ball back, while on the ball, everything.”

Young Attackers, among whose ranks were several UFH players who have since rejoined the squad, treated the home side with a lot of respect, Nyosana said.

UFH - Football - Mayozi Tournament - Siphuxolo Tomase

Striker Siphuxolo Tomase will be hoping the impressive form he showed in the Mazoyi tournament will carry through to the Varsity Football competition. Photo: Supplied

For most of the match they were camped in their own half, with Fort Hare’s passing game coming to the fore to pin them down.

It was the visitors who scored first via a first-half penalty. But the students roared back in the second stanza to overcome the deficit and eventually seal the victory.

Journeyman striker Siphuxolo Tomase put in a standout performance marshalling his younger teammates, scoring one of his team’s goals and assisting in the other netted by Qhayiya Godini.

“Since 2016 he [Tomase] has been there for us, he is a good player,” Nyosana said.

Prior to the playoff he was adamant that Fort Hare would get a podium finish and he could not have been happier that his words proved prophetic.

The team get their Varsity Football campaign underway with a home game against Vaal University of Technology on July 27.

With powerhouse outfits like Tshwane and North-West universities in the tournament, Nyosana and his assistant coaches want the players at peak fitness levels.

“We have been running and focusing on agility. We need to maintain our intensity when we come up against those teams.

“If you are unfit, you will not get away with it. You must be prepared mentally and physically.”

Nyosana knew only too well that a lot of responsibility lay on his shoulders given that Fort Hare would be playing on the biggest university stage of all.

However, he believed the years he had spent with the team – including 2016 and 2017 when they had less success in the tournament than they had hoped – helped him understand what was required.

“I was there in 2016. I saw everything when I was still the kit manager. Now, as coach, I am trying to reflect on what I have seen before.

“I have asked myself, ‘Why did we lose so many games?’ So now I know what is needed. We are there to compete, not just make up numbers.”