By ZINGISA MVUMVU
The University of Fort Hare last night failed spectacularly to celebrate the birthday of their most popular alumnus Nelson Mandela.
They went down 2-0 to their Central University of Technology football rivals, disappointing thousands of supporters who had braved the cold to pack the Davidson Stadium at the main campus in Alice.
But all is not lost – there are six matches before the semi-finals for UFH to redeem their campaign and make this, their maiden season in the five-year-old Varsity Football competition, one to remember.
CUT drew first blood courtesy of their best player of the night, Keitumetse Mabathoana, who fired home a beauty in the 17th minute.
It was during these early stages that the home side’s backline was found wanting, struggling to contain the visitors’ skilful winger Winston Manopole who created the goal.
In fact it was not a start any home side would wish for. UFH spent the opening 20 minutes chasing shadows.
The visitors went at them in one wave after another, with Manopole leading the charge at the wings.
It appeared the technical team of the visitors had a spot-on masterplan, for they switched Manopole between left wing and right every 10 minutes.
And it worked, at least for the first third of the match.
But the home side came back strongly towards the dying moments of the opening stanza with some impressive attacks on the right wing.
Yonwabo Madayi and Banele Thompson tried their best to bring UFH back into the game but the CUT defence, thanks to their aerial advantage, stood their ground until half-time – and coming back from the interval, the hosts continued right where they had left off.
They fired the first warning shot of the closing half within 10 minutes through a thunderous strike by Emmanuel Mashabela from the D-line.
But the Free State side’s goalkeeper Zolani Ligunya was wide awake and pushed the ball over the cross-bar.
That was about the last real threat UFH posed. Instead, the home side’s suspect backline downed Mabathoana inside the penalty box and the referee deservedly called it a penalty.
Abram Singozo’s shot from the spot sailed way off above the crossbar.
But that disappointing moment would last only a few minutes as Manopole found Cameron Chweu who headed home the second for the visitors halfway into the final 45.
That was about it – it sealed an impressive victory for CUT and a poor start for UFH in Varsity Football.
UFH travels to Mafikeng Stadium on Monday to meet North West Universityand CUT will meet the University of Johannesburg. — firstname.lastname@example.org