A scoreline of 2-5 may just be worth noting when you consider that the losing team were students and their opponents seasoned professional footballers.
In a bid for glory at this year’s USSA tournament in Cape Town, the University of Fort Hare men’s team have been testing themselves against some of the Eastern Cape’s best sides in a series of friendlies.
On Monday they came up against none other than Premier Soccer League outfit Chippa United in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Despite the professionals finding the back of the net five times, UFH gave an excellent account of themselves in putting two past their Gqeberha-based opposition.
The goals, coming from Thabang Dube and Alizwa Maseti, have given the students plenty of belief ahead of the national student tournament.
“It was a great game,” coach Mongile Nyosana said.
“We managed to create some chances and our marking was on point. And this was their full first-team squad.”
United players were also happy to offer words of encouragement to his charges, he added.
Although the results of the warm-up matches against Chippa, Sinenkani FC and Amavarara did not go their way, the speed at which these teams play has forced UFH to up the tempo of their own game.
The experience of returning to Varsity Football for the first time in five years in 2023 has left the team from Alice hungry for more.
Sating this appetite will require them to place in the top eight of the USSAs, which starts on Sunday, to qualify for next year’s showpiece.
While they fared far better than they did in their previous Varsity Football outing in 2017, Fort Hare lost out in some big moments in the latter half of their campaign to give their opponents the edge.
Many lessons have been learnt, however, and they will be looking to put these teachings into practice in the coming days.
Fort Hare have drawn two hardened opponents – the universities of Johannesburg and Pretoria – in their group.
The Jozi outfit were Varsity Football finalists this year after topping the round-robin stage and won the tournament in 2021.
Even though the Joburg students were “good on paper”, every team had their weaknesses and Nyosana was determined to find and exploit these.
“In Varsity Football we played very, very well at times but just didn’t manage to win games. That’s what we need to focus on now,” he said.
UFH get their campaign underway against Sol Plaatjie University on Monday and Nyosana said they would not be underestimating the men from Kimberley.