Fort Hare goal merchant Sinobom Kapase never lets missed penalties bother him.
As part of his team’s leadership group, he cannot afford to drop his head if his shot from the spot goes awry and getting back on the horse as quickly as possible is simply part of his make-up.
Against the University of Free State last Thursday, a national television audience witnessed the 23-year-old from Mthatha return to his best only minutes after he had sent a penalty well over the crossbar.
A superb ball from the left saw him getting into the perfect position to find the back of the net for UFH’s all-important equaliser. That gave Fort Hare their first point in FNB Varsity Football in six years.
“I’ve played football from a young age. You miss penalties, it happens,” the centre-forward said philosophically.
“But, if I am a leader and I get down, what are the others supposed to do? So I picked myself up and led.”
Kapase and his teammates were very much aware that they carried the underdog tag going into the UFS match.
Their nervous start to the tournament against Vaal University of Technology might have been seen by rivals as an opportunity for an easy three points, but Kapase knew they were better than that.
“We have been in camps since June. Against VUT we didn’t show any of the things we had been working on. In the UFS match we knew it was time to show up.”
While the Free Staters might have scored early on, Fort Hare continued to remind them that they were never going to go away. Had they buried their penalties, the 1-1 result “could have been a different story”.
Varsity Football is by far the biggest stage Kapase has played on, though as a youth he did play in several FNB soccer tournaments in the Eastern Cape.
He also represented the City Strikers development team while a learner at Khanyisa High School in Mthatha.
While he is currently studying for a postgraduate certificate in education, he would love to enter football’s professional ranks as a player, coach or even agent.
“I want to turn professional but it’s also tough out there. I think you just have to keep pushing and see what happens.
“What I want to do is promote the players from the Eastern Cape because there are a lot of them.”
Fort Hare come up against Bloemfontein’s Central University of Technology in a night game on Thursday – their first match on the road during this campaign.
Kapase acknowledged that it would be “tough”, particularly since the opposition had also lost to VUT last week and would be looking to make amends against the newcomers.
“CUT will come for us. They will want to bring hope back to their fans. It’s also never easy playing away from home, but we also know these experiences are good for us.”
One aspect that would be to Fort Hare’s advantage was that CUT’s fans were not as vocal as their own and would not get as much spectator support as a result. This would allow the team to go for the jugular.
“I think we are surprising a lot of people. We just need to keep believing we can do more,” Kapase said.