The Mecer NMMU-Madibaz are determined to improve their sixth place on the Varsity Hockey log by applying the lessons they learnt last weekend to their matches in Stellenbosch from Friday.
The league phase of the biennial men’s tournament will be completed on Sunday, with the top four sides qualifying for Monday’s semi-finals. The remaining teams will play for positions five to eight.
The Madibaz started well with a thrilling penalty shootout triumph against UCT last Friday, but then lost to Wits, Maties and Tuks.
With a young team under his command, coach Cheslyn Gie was not discouraged by the results and said they would absorb the lessons they had learnt as they looked ahead to the remaining three league games.
“The youngsters are learning very quickly, and we are getting there. There was a big improvement after the Maties game.
“If we do really well this weekend and win our three matches, which we can if we convert our chances, we could go to 12 points and then it would depend on other results.”
He acknowledged, though, that it had been a big adjustment for some of the younger players to compete at a higher level.
“It’s a steep learning curve and unfortunately our league is not strong enough for the adjustment you have to make once you get to this level.
“But having learnt some lessons, we definitely want to take it further this weekend.”
Gie felt the Madibaz had been competitive in their matches, but added they needed to work on their finishing up front.
“I thought we started off okay against UCT and did nicely to come back after being 2-1 and 3-2 down to make it 3-3, and then did well to win the shootout.
“The next game was against Wits (losing 5-2) and we were a bit unlucky, and that happened the whole weekend because our strikers just did not convert the chances we created.
“Even against Maties, when we lost 8-0, their keeper made three or four brilliant saves to keep us out. That loss was a big wake-up call for the youngsters in the squad; our intensity was just not good enough.
“Although we lost 3-1 against Tuks, we dominated for large parts of the game, but just didn’t get the ball in the net.”
NMMU’s fixtures are: Pukke (May 13), Kovsies (May 14), UJ (May 15); play-offs (May 16).