UFH - Men's Football - Nkosiyethu Ngobe (FSC)

A hard-fought goalless draw against Bloemfontein’s Central University of Technology earned Fort Hare their second point of this year’s FNB Varsity Football competition.

While pleased to come away with a share of the spoils on Thursday, especially playing away from home, the team believe they could well have notched up their first win of the tournament.

It was end-to-end football throughout the 90 minutes, with both sides creating chances that ultimately went begging.

Just as they had against the University of Free State, Fort Hare’s rock-solid defence stood up to the challenge presented by CUT’s playmakers and strikers.

UFH lost 2-0 in their opening match against VUT and came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw against UFS.

Livewire goalkeeper Nkosiyethu Ngobe, who came into the team against UFS following an on-field injury to first-choice stopper Lihle Vathu, made it two clean sheets in a row in Bloem.

The 24-year-old has taken his chance with both hands to impress all and sundry between the sticks.

“It was a great game against CUT, very challenging,” the Bachelor of Commerce student said. We both wanted to win.

UFH - Men's Football - Nkosiyethu Ngobe (FSC)

Agile Fort Hare goalkeeper Nkosiyethu Ngobe has lifted his game since coming into the side on the back of an injury to Lihle Vathu. Photo: Full Stop Communications

“When we started playing well, they started playing well.

“We also know we should have won, and some of the boys are a little disappointed that we didn’t. We expected more.”

The team are learning as the tournament progresses, keeping the ball longer and away from the opposition’s playmakers.

Ngobe felt there were moments in the game when his side needed to relax and not kick the ball away needlessly.

“We just need to focus all the time,” he said.

“CUT had a lot of ball players who passed well and created chances. They knew we also play like that, so they defended well at the back.”

“We were strong in defence, so they started using their wingers a lot more.”

He knew he had to make the most of his opportunity when he came on for Vathu in UFH’s second match of the campaign.

As the second-choice goalkeeper it was hard to make the starting line-up and now it was a “great pleasure” for him to be in the team, he said.

Ngobe has made some excellent saves in the two matches he has played and is already gaining a reputation for the energy he brings to the side.

“Getting another clean sheet makes me feel great, especially after coming off the bench.

“Something I had struggled with previously was making mistakes in crucial moments. But since coming into the team, I’m making those saves.”

He said there was a big difference between being known as a good ‘keeper and proving that you were one.

“You have to prove your worth to people. Whenever I am given a chance in football, I always want to prove myself. I want to make myself proud as well as my coach and fans.”

Making his job easier are the defenders in front of him. The quintet of Bonke Nxiwa, Athenkosi Jezi, Mbeko Mbungane, Someleze Kapteni and Masiza Athenkosi are growing in stature with each game and Ngobe has already forged a solid understanding with them.

The opposition were finding it hard to break the line as a result, he explained.

“When I tell them to move or shift to a certain position they do so. They are great communicators and listeners.

“It’s not a simple thing that they do – marking opponents is not easy.”

Ngobe is particularly grateful when it comes to defending corners as “they are always able to organise [themselves] well”.

Fort Hare’s next assignment is against the University of Johannesburg in the City of Gold on Thursday.