COOL heads and strict discipline will be needed by the Madibaz when they clash with Pukke in what promises to be an absorbing Varsity Cup semifinal in Potchefstroom tonight.
When the teams met earlier in the season, Pukke ran out easy 52-16 winners and the Madibaz will need to fire on all cylinders if they plan to overturn that heavy defeat.
In tonight’s other semifinal, Ikeys clash with arch-rivals Maties in what promises to be another keenly fought duel between two well-matched sides.
Pukke played in the 2009 final when they lost to Maties in Stellenbosch, while the Madibaz are yet to reach a final. The men from PE played in their first semifinal last year where they went down to Maties.
Maties will take heart from the fact that the Ikeys’ only two defeats this season have come at home with the notoriously windy conditions on the Green Mile set to have a major say in the outcome once more. The men in maroon have won three Varsity Cup titles (2008-2010), beating Ikeys (the 2011 champions) in the 2008 and 2010 finals. However, this will be their first-ever semifinal meeting and promises to be a memorable one.
Madibaz coach David Maidza has warned his players they will have to cut down on their error rate and maintain good discipline if they want to achieve their dream of playing in a final.
“I wasn’t pleased that our ill- discipline let us down when we lost to Shimlas in our last league game and that could have cost us our qualification,” he said.
The Madibaz picked up two yellow cards in a hard-fought match that saw them down to 13 men at one stage.
“The game is normally lost by the team that makes the most mistakes and we allowed Shimlas to get back into the game and score points from some of our errors.
“Having lost badly in the fourth round against Pukke, we know exactly where their strength lies. But it’s a new game altogether and that is how we are going to treat it.
“We’ve worked hard to get where we are and cannot just go through the motions now,” the coach said.
Maidza does not believe that home ground advantage will give the Pukke the edge.
“At the knockout stage, it doesn’t really count. We’ve actually been pretty good away from home and we’re looking forward to the game. We need to go out and put all facets of our game into top gear.”
Pukke lost just one of their seven round-robin encounters, while the Madibaz had mixed fortunes with four wins and three defeats. – George Byron