With only a few weeks before the 2017 FNB Varsity Cup starts, coach David Maidza’s Madibaz are purely focused on producing a strong showing in this year’s competition even though they face the demanding challenge of playing all their matches away from home.
Due to an upgrade to the Madibaz stadium, the team from NMMU will not have the support of their home crowd, which helped them to a 46 – 33 victory in last year’s competition, when they face UCT on the 30th of January as the match will be played in Cape Town.
Maidza acknowledged that it would be a test for the squad, but said they would not let that concern them in their planning for the upcoming competition.
“Whatever the situation, we all know we are privileged to be representing NMMU in the Varsity Cup and we are only focusing on putting in good performances,” he said.
“We have a good team to look after the needs, physically and mentally, of these talented young men.”
After experiencing a testing season last year, Maidza said their aim would be to inject an improvement into their performances.
“If we can do that we can better our log position from the last two years,” he said.
“This is a fresh start for everyone in the squad and with that we need to build a good team ethos, which will in turn give us good performances on the field.”
The Madibaz scored their only victory last season against UCT to avoid the relegation match and they will meet the same opponents in their opening game this month.
“It is always important to have a good start,” said Maidza. “That good start can be a win or a solid performance and that is our simple aim.”
The Madibaz mentor said he was happy with the squad’s preparations.
“We started last year at the beginning of November, followed by a two-week break before resuming on January 3.
“The boys have worked hard during this period and the preparations have been sound.”
Maidza said they had continued with their process of looking within the Madibaz ranks for the best talent.
“With this in mind, I am happy to say that the majority of the squad will be made up of student-athletes who have been involved previously with Madibaz.
“The rest of the squad is made up of the juniors who we believe can make the step up into the Varsity Cup competition.”
The team will be captained by Kevin Kaba and Maidza said there would be co-vice captains in Andile Jho and Wynand Grassman.
He added the squad were approaching the season with plenty of enthusiasm.
“There is, of course, a lot of eagerness among the group to test themselves against the opposition.”
This year will be Madibaz’s tenth season since the competition started in 2008, with their best being in 2013/14 when they ended up losing semi-finalists.