UFH - Women's Football (FSC) (9)

The University of Fort Hare go into next week’s USSA women’s football championships as a team everyone will want to beat.

At the back end of the side’s most successful season in its history, UFH continue to impress.

Most recently, they swept aside Nelson Mandela University 4-1 and Walter Sisulu University (WSU) 5-0 as they intensified their preparations for the national student competition starting in Cape Town on December 4.

In 2023, Fort Hare brushed aside almost all comers to win the Sasol Women’s League coastal stream, provincial playoff and national competition.

Almost beyond belief, outside of Varsity Football they have now registered 23 games without a defeat, making them a daunting prospect for opponents.

UFH now have the opportunity to qualify for next year’s elite Varsity Football tournament for the second year in a row. However, according to coach Asanda Mnakaniso, it won’t be all smooth sailing.

Varsity Football is the one area where UFH have not dominated this year. This is mainly due to age limits imposed at the tournament, ruling out many members of his squad.

In their first outing in August, they drew two and lost one of their three games.

UFH - Women's Football (FSC) (9)

Nosikho “Bella” Magqaza, who has had an outstanding season for Sasol league champions Fort Hare, will be in action at this year’s USSAs in Cape Town: Full Stop Communications

That said, given what subsequently transpired in the Sasol national league and their ascent to next year’s elite Hollywoodbets Super League, those representing Fort Hare at the USSAs will be brimming with confidence.

In addition, Mnakaniso confirmed that their preparation had gone well.

“We’ve been working with the players from the East London and Alice campuses and won our friendlies, including against Walter Sisulu who are in our pool at the USSAs.”

And, unlike in Varsity Football where he found himself in the unenviable position of having only one goalkeeper available, two will be making the trip to the Western Cape next week.

Mnakaniso was under no illusions that it would be an easy ride with so many of his charges left behind in the Eastern Cape.

For one thing, their group feature University of Johannesburg, the 2022 USSA champions and this year’s Varsity Football finalists.

The Orange Army rank among university soccer’s giants and the coach was realistic that his team would have their work cut out against them. Free State University will not be a walkover either.

He also pointed out that his team had played in excess of 30 games this year – a considerable amount for any team, let alone students who still had to devote time to assignments and exams.

Despite this, he believed that the potential of his squad was such that they would qualify for Varsity Football in 2024.

Winning the trophy would be the cherry on top, he said.