Madibaz head coach Graeme Harrison has vowed to continue the fight in the 2015 Varsity Football tournament after a string of disappointing results this season.
The Madibaz’s narrow 1-0 defeat at the hands of TUT on Monday night was also their fourth straight loss from five matches, which started with a goalless draw against VUT. The team has yet to find the back of the net in this year’s campaign.
“Everything has just gone against us but we’re hanging in there and are going to keep on fighting till the end of the competition,” said Harrison.
“We still have two home games to look forward to and we’re hoping the local support will inspire our boys to score goals.”
He said a combination of inexperience, missed opportunities and bad luck had contributed to the Madibaz’s current position at the bottom of the log.
“The score lines have not necessarily reflected how we’ve performed so far. In every game we’ve been in it but our mental strength and lapses in concentration have let us down a bit.
“I think the five games on the road have also taken their toll. It’s not an excuse but it is a factor.”
Describing the team as “a work in progress”, Harrison said they were currently in a rebuilding phase after losing a wealth of experienced players who graduated this year.
“The side is almost 80 per cent new blood and it’s been tough on the boys. They don’t necessarily understand the rigours and standard that is expected at this level.”
He said playing against established footballing institutions like Wits and Tuks, who had links to professional outfits, had been an eye-opener for them.
“We’re punching above our weight at the moment and our injuries haven’t helped.”
Harrison said the absence of seasoned striker Kieran Koert, who sustained a serious shoulder injury in the very first game, had been a big blow to the team.
“He would have been a good asset as he’s been in form and scoring prolifically. We really do miss him.”
Another key player, midfielder Kenneth Motlhabi, also sat out four games with an ankle injury.
“He came back on Monday night and did extremely well, even though he was still showing the effects of his injury.”
Harrison said, despite these setbacks, captain Athini Bisha had rallied his troops and led effectively under trying circumstances.
He said the Madibaz would now turn their attentions to their first home game of the tournament against minnows Walter Sisulu University, who are just one spot above them in the standings.
“We’re looking forward to the battle of the Eastern Cape teams next week. It’s going to be a humdinger!”
Having encountered WSU previously in the local university play-offs, Harrison predicted a fast-paced and high-scoring game.
“They’ll also be out to prove themselves and hopefully we can open our account next week.
“We hope our ardent and loyal supporters will come out in numbers. They haven’t seen the team all season and I know the players are looking forward to performing in front of a home crowd.”
The Madibaz’s penultimate game kicks off at 6.30pm on Monday night at the Madibaz Stadium.
For more news and results see Varsity Football.