The University of the Western Cape Football Club’s brilliant dominance of South African university football continued in good fashion over the weekend.
Days after the men's football team shot to the final of the Varsity Football competition, the women’s football team were not to be outdone and secured their spot in the final of the Varsity Women's Football tournament in style. Interestingly, UWC Ladies will take on defending champions the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) - the same opponents their male counterparts will play - in what will be a double final at UWC Sports Stadium on 24 September.
After flying up to Pretoria on Friday morning (11 September), the Udubs Ladies had little time to settle in as they had to face UP-Tuks on the same evening. Former captain Rachel Sebati netted both goals of a 2-1 win, despite having to spend about 10 minutes on the side-line midway through the game, together with Banyana Banyana star forward Thembi Kgalana, due to what seemed to be serious injuries.
But the medical team managed to help them and they soldiered on. Sebati was also on target when UWC beat the University of Johannesburg 3-0 on Sunday to secure top spot in Pool B of the competition. Her successor, Vuyo Mkhabela, converted two penalties to give UWC a comfortable victory.
Coach Nathan Peskin praised his charges for their hard work and determination during their only second season in the competition, saying his girls were focused throughout the weekend. “These girls had only one mission and objective - that was to get to the final, and they didn’t disappoint at all.”
Peskin said the victory has sky-rocketed the mood and the morale in the camp. “Going away to beat two top Gauteng teams was very tough. We might even have surprised ourselves, and the team is on top of the world. We are very proud to have brought the double-final to UWC and I’m sure it will be an interesting one.”
His team will be without Thalea Smidt after the influential midfielder was called to the South African national Under-20 team for their game against Zambia in the same week as the final. Peskin described the call-up as “a set-back”. “Our midfield is where our attacking and defensive game is centred around. It’s a big loss and it will be difficult to replace her.”
There is a positive aspect in her call-up, though. “Yes, her call-up is good for the University and the player. It means we are producing more and more quality players and it will enhance the status of the University. However, it is a bitter-sweet pill to swallow because while we are happy for her, we are also sad that it is happening at the time when we have to play the final.”
Peskin admitted that the men’s team’s historical achievement to reach the final was an added impetus for the women’s team to do well.
“There has always been a love-hate relationship between the men and the women football teams. The two teams have always been challenging each other in previous competitions in a healthy manner, and the ladies team has often been the forerunner of that competition. So when the men’s team won on Thursday evening, that put some pressure on the girls, but it also inspired them because they wanted to be in the final with the boys.”