The 2017 edition of the FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International edition has seen newcomers FNB Wits pick their first-ever win in the competition, since its inception. The FNB Witsies, have already played four games and have narrowly lost three of their fixtures. But they will be very optimistic about the remaining matches.
The Varsity Cup has seen many surprises in its last ten years, which makes it an interesting competition even for the underdog.
In last season’s campaign, FNB UP-Tuks found themselves in a similar position as to what FNB Wits currently find themselves in. They lost their opening three fixtures, but managed to pick up crucial wins thereafter, which saw them go onto sealing a place in the semi-final.
Many will say FNB Wits and FNB UP-Tuks aren’t at the same level, but looking at this season, FNB Wits have improved game after game. FNB Wits were also without many of their young starlets, such as former SA Schools players Gianni Lombard, Wandisile Simelane and Manuel Rass, who were waiting on being released by their contracted union, in order to be available for the competition.
Now that the FNB Witsies have more talent at their disposal, picking up vital wins should be a little easier. Adding to that, important team members returning from injury will definitely give them the boost they require to fight for a place in the knockout phase.
FNB Wits will face FNB NWU-Pukke in their next fixture. This fixture will be one the FNB Witsies will look to target to get back to winning ways, as in the preseason they managed to narrowly beat FNB NWU-Pukke. The team from the North-West are also coming off a defeat against FNB Shimlas, meaning the spirit in their camp won’t be at its highest.
The FNB Witsies season opener saw them play a game that went down to the wire against FNB Shimlas, where they should have won but unfortunately on a wet day, a few handling errors let the Johannesburg outfit down. Much confidence can be drawn by FNB Wits from FNB NWU-Pukke’s loss to the FNB Shimlas. FNB Shimlas dominated FNB NWU-Pukke from early on and maintained it throughout the match, which was not the case in the FNB Wits game against the same opposition.
The last three fixtures will see FNB Wits play FNB UCT and FNB NMMU at home, with the biggest clash seeing the FNB Witsies travel a short distance across town to tussle it out with city rivals FNB UJ.
After the FNB NWU-Pukke game, FNB Wits will play their remaining fixtures in Johannesburg, which suits them well, as they won’t be traveling ahead of their games, which has been seen to affect teams in the past. FNB Wits will hope to win all their remaining matches if they are to see themselves amongst the best in country. FNB Wits also managed to get a win in the preseason against rivals FNB UJ, which will be a huge boost mentally when they go in search of a win at the UJ Stadium later in the season.
It’s all to play for in the second half of the season in a set of fixtures that FNB Wits will relish.
By Sifiso Nyawo