Having come within a whisker of winning the University Sport South Africa men’s hockey title, the NMMU-Madibaz will now switch their focus to the Eastern Province premier league that resumes next week.
Madibaz Sport hockey manager Cheslyn Gie said the team, who are second on the log, would pay full attention to the local competition, starting with a fixture against Pirates on July 23.
“We have lost a bit of momentum from the USSA week as the university is on holiday and the players have been given some time off to recover from the strenuous tournament in Johannesburg.
“I do, however, feel that although we have a very young side, we will strive to compete and do our utmost to retain our league title.”
Gie was encouraged with the team’s fine performance in the USSA tournament, where they ended runners-up to University of Johannesburg, losing 4-3 after conceding a late goal.
“It was very satisfying to see the players getting the rewards they deserve for putting in the hard work. This builds on our consistent USSA results of the last five years.”
He added that teamwork and the accurate execution of their game plan were key elements in reaching the final.
“Also, our counter-attack ability, with some great defensive work, helped us.”
Gie identified Chad Cairncross, who was the tournament’s leading scorer with seven goals, and goalkeeper Muzimmal Sheik as two of their top performers.
“In addition, Callan Dewar was outstanding in central defence and Kirwin Christoffels and Curtis Samboer did well in midfield.
“Cerezo Comerasamy, as our most senior striker, was immense,” he said.
“He injured his hamstring on day one and through some great work by biokineticist Chad Durrheim, plus his fighting spirit and willpower, he recovered to lead the striker line by example.”
Gie was particularly impressed with how the team were able to raise their game at crucial times.
“They deserve all the praise as they showed they could handle the big moments.
“We were eight minutes away from winning the final and the players now realise that, with a little bit more work, we can achieve a gold medal.
“With nine first years in the team, it bodes well for the future.”