The FNB NMMU Madibaz wrapped up a successful pre-season campaign this weekend with a 32-13 victory over Police ahead of the squad announcement for the 2015 FNB Varsity Cup, presented by Steinhoff International, on Wednesday.
According to Madibaz head coach David Maidza, his team had come a long way since their first chukka-based clash with the same team on January 12.
“I felt that we were very rusty and did not gel well as a team,” said Maidza, who took over coaching duties from Brent Janse van Rensburg at the beginning of last year.
He said the second game against the University of the Western Cape on January 23 reflected a massive improvement for the side, with the Madibaz taking a dominant 55-10 win in George.
“As team management, Barend Pieterse, Tiger Mangweni and I were quite pleased with the effort that the boys put in.”
Maidza said the third and final friendly fixture had helped the team with their last-minute preparations ahead of the national competition.
“Once more our improvement was noticeable, especially the physical side of things, which is one department that will need to be very sharp during the upcoming matches.
“We are grateful to UWC and Police, because we now know the key areas we need to hone for the first game,” he said.
The Madibaz will face last year’s runners-up NWU-Pukke in their opening round clash in Potchefstroom on February 9.
According to Maidza, this year’s Varsity Cup tournament will be more open and unpredictable than in previous years.
“I do have a suspicion that no one team will run the competition this year.
“Any team will be able to beat the next team and newly promoted CUT will cause an upset or two.”
Maidza said his team’s passion and determination was a driving factor for him as coach.
“This is a young squad we have assembled this year and what a joy it is to see young student athletes blossoming in the sport and studies.
“These boys are diligent students and in that they pick up a lot of what they are asked to execute very quickly.”
In terms of the team’s chances in the upcoming tournament, Maidza said they would be taking it game by game and that every team would be tough opposition.
“We have been training around five times a week as a team, including technical sessions with the various units.”
He said teambuilding had also formed a significant part of the team’s strategies for the tournament.
“We have been fortunate enough to get the services of Dr Lynn Slogrove from our human movement science department to help us with the mental side of the game.
“We are a band of brothers, and all members will stand out for the better of the team,” said Maidza.
After being knocked out in the semis for the past two years, he said the Madibaz were determined to improve their chances at this year’s tournament.
“We would certainly like to make it to the final and be recognised for all the hard work that has been put in, not only in the preparations for this year’s competition, but for all the previous years that we have not been able to make it past the semis.”
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