|The triumph by the Madibaz football team in the regional section of the Nedbank Cup in Port Elizabeth at the weekend is another step in the right direction as they continue to aim for higher honours.
The Nelson Mandela University outfit won the Safa-NMB leg of the knockout competition – which involves SAB League teams – by beating Ikamva Movers 5-3 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 score at the end of fulltime.
The students will now go into a draw to play the regional SAB League knockout competition winners from across the province in the next phase of the tournament.
After winning the local SAB League title last season, Madibaz football manager Mark Tommy said this latest triumph showed they were on the right track.
“The objectives of Madibaz football are very clear in that the club aim to win as many games as possible. We want to qualify for promotion to the ABC Motsepe League and, ultimately, the National First Division.
“Growing the game in PE and establishing a professional league status that represents the people of this metro is the overall goal.”
He said that the technical staff, led by coach Wayne Iveson, were intent on winning the SAB League again this season.
“It is our objective to reach the playoffs for the ABC Motsepe League and an extended run in the Nedbank Cup will afford us the opportunity to compete against teams from around the country.”
He said the Nedbank Cup campaign had been a tough challenge as the competition was fierce to land a place in the last 32 of the national tournament.
“Reaching that stage comes with a huge financial incentive,” said Tommy.
“It is the equivalent of England’s FA Cup, with lower division teams getting a chance to test themselves against professional teams in the National First Division and Premier Soccer League.”
While three of their matches had to be decided via penalty shootouts, he said it typified the “never say die” spirit of the students.
“They kept their nerve and showed the mental strength to win these encounters, with goalkeeper Mzwandile Mvunyiswa proving to be a matchwinner on more than one occasion.”
He added that the squad would be involved in recovery sessions this week after playing three Cup matches in five days, as well as fulfilling their SAB League commitments.
“They will be under the expert eye of Jayde Howitz, our biokineticist, who has a vital role in managing player commitments and injury prevention in a congested season.”
Tommy said the Nedbank Cup would create excellent opportunities to test themselves against different opposition.
“In competing against teams from the other regions, we can make assessments of our players and evaluate areas of improvement and strengths.
“This will enable us to make any necessary changes as we strive to win the SAB League again and get another bite at the promotion playoffs for the ABC Motsepe League.”
He added that the recruitment strategy they had employed was paying off as matriculants had been included in the team, with the objective of becoming students next year.
“By then these youngsters will have learnt the culture and philosophy of Madibaz football,” said Tommy.