Following an intensive conditioning programme, UJ have registered two wins and a draw, putting them two points behind early pace-setters North-West University.
The team’s latest success was a 2-1 result over Johannesburg rivals Wits on Thursday and UJ soccer manager Joel Kgokong said much of their success was down to their fitness.
“Under one of our sports scientists – Sereeta Miles – we have placed a big emphasis on fitness and this has been important.”
He said an indication of this came in the University Sport South Africa tournament, from which they emerged with all their players’ fitness intact
“Maintaining fitness is one of the challenges we have had,” added Kgokong.
“You don’t normally compete in a tournament [such as USSA] where you play seven matches in five days and avoid injuries.
“But that’s what we have managed to achieve and Sereeta has been able to get the players to peak fitness for the next tournament – Varsity Football.”
He added that the motivation was high to do well in the varsity tournament.
“We are tired of making the semifinals and sometimes losing in the final [UJ were runners-up in 2016], so there is a real focus on trying to win the tournament this year.”
Even though they were among the early frontrunners, Kgokong said they would not be looking further ahead than the next match.
UJ are up against University of KwaZulu-Natal – who won the USSA title earlier this year – in Durban on Thursday.
“For instance, we have always battled against teams like UKZN, who have twice knocked us out of the USSA quarterfinals.
“Now they are battling a bit in Varsity Football [they’ve lost three out of three], but we know you have to take each match as it comes.”