Even with three wins under their belts, University of Johannesburg soccer coach Mandla Zwane is keeping his feet on the ground and looking no further than their next Varsity Football game against North-West University on Thursday.
UJ, who have also suffered two defeats, are lying third on the log and are just a few wins away from securing their berth in the top four play-offs. However, Zwane said if there was one thing he had learnt from the competition it was that you had to be prepared to fight hard in every match. He added that things would get no easier when they faced their Potchefstroom rivals in Johannesburg this week.
“The season has been tough because Varsity Football has developed into a very strong competition,” said Zwane. “You only have to look at the log to see how close these things are.”
He said Tshwane University of Technology, the only unbeaten team in the competition, were setting the pace. “They have very few weaknesses, but it is a good thing because it is forcing us to rise to the challenge.” After five rounds, just three points separate the top five teams, with three sides, including UJ, sitting on nine points.
“At this stage, we are taking each game as it comes and we know it will be a tough one against North-West because they will be smarting after their home loss last week. We cannot be complacent and will give them the respect they deserve.” Although they were playing at home, Zwane said it would not make much of a difference.
“I fancy our chances whether we play at home or away,” he said, but admitted it spurred the players on when they had the home fans behind them. “But you still have to do the hard work because we have seen quite a few teams win away from home this season. The visiting side often play a bit more cautiously and defensively and this can leave you vulnerable to counter-attacks.”
Zwane added that their focus would remain on being offensive and that they were constantly working on their finishing ability.
“Defensively we have been solid, but we have at times missed chances on attack. It seems to be a problem in South African soccer because it happens in the PSL as well.” He said players just seemed to take the wrong decision at the wrong time and working with them to control those moments was a big part of their coaching.
Even though he said they would be focused only on the next game, he confirmed their desire to secure a spot in the semis.
“Of course, every coach has that as his goal and if you can get a home semi, or even a home final, that would be great.
“But we first have to take care of business on Thursday.”