Champs Tuks Embracing The Pressure
Defending Varsity Football champions UP-Tuks want to use the pressure of expectation to their advantage in their opening clash against Kovsies on Monday.
UP-Tuks made a slow start to the competition last year, going down to local rivals TUT in their opening match, but they gathered momentum as the tournament progressed and peaked at the right time to take the inaugural title.
As defending champions there will be the weight of expectation on their shoulders, but midfielder Robin Schwartz says that they will use that as a motivating factor as they look to double up.
"I think it will go both ways, we understand that there is pressure but we must rise to the challenge. Winning will be so much sweeter knowing that everyone wants to beat us.
"We know it is going to be tough, we know everybody is coming for us but we step up to that challenge," he said.
UP-Tuks had things all their own way when they faced Kovsies in Bloemfontein last year, but they cannot afford to underestimate any opponents and will have to be on top of their game from the word go.
Schwartz explained that they will treat every game exactly the same and are looking at their opening clash with the Free State outfit as a cup final.
"Being champions and knowing the challenge that comes from it we have just got to take it one game at a time. We haven't identified any teams who we think are going to be a big threat to us, every game we play will be like a cup final for us," he said.
One advantage that UP-Tuks do have is they have been together as a group under coach Evangelos Vellios for some time, and Schwartz explained that there is a good understanding in the team about how they want to play as they look to hit the ground running against Kovsies.
"A lot of the boys weren't just together in the university but also the junior ranks at Tuks football which I do think gives us an advantage. We have also played for the coach for a long time so we understand what he wants," he said.
UP-Tuks: 32 Lebo Ngubeni, 13 Lindsay Stowman, 8 Nicholas Killas, 17 Irvin Tshabalala, 4 Lawrence Ntswane, 22 Dean Wilkinson, 14 Galane Tebogo, 15 Jarryd van den Berg, 20 Thabo Ndlovu, 5 Simbongile Njokwe, 23 Vuse-Umuze Khoza.
Substitutes: 1 Nicholoas Stothard, 12 Phutego Mabitsela, 10 Jeremiah Nkwana, 18 Lucky Mathosi, 9 Mbongeni Masilela, 7 Luke Steyl, 11 Richard Moremi.
UFS: 1 Serasengoe Moodie, 4 Marathodi Phillies, 13 Tsoeu Mphezulu, 19 Jarred Meyer, 20 Dumisani Tjomelane, 15 Themba Zimo, 12 Kakudi Moreleba, 11 Lehlohonolo Mokoena, 7 Walter Phori, 10 Simon Modupi, 9 Jay Jay Groenewald.
Substitutes: 24 Dylan O’Brien, 6 Manxubandile Bantshi, 23 Mongezi Mologovane, 3 Unathi Mabandla, 2 Khauhelo Kholotsa, 16 Lehlohonolo Thaele, 8 Christopher Makgoe.
With the match to be broadcast live on TV (SuperSport 204 & 210), the defending cup holders will look to put the University of the Free State to the sword.