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Orange Army want to make UJ proud

After missing the semi-finals of last year’s competition by just two points, FNB UJ head coach Jonathan Mokuena believes that his charges have had enough time to bounce back and prepare for the 2024 FNB Varsity Cup.

“[There’s been] a lot of excitement, obviously. It’s been a long, almost 20 weeks of preparations. There is excitement now that the boys are ready to go and measure themselves against the teams that they are going to play.”


The Orange Army head into the season without some of their marquee players, such as Mpho Kubheka, former co-captain Kelvin Kanenungo, Shaun Bexter and Elijah Kwitando.


“We have lost about six players to other universities and it’s something we cannot control. Those are quality players. That experience you don’t pick up overnight. It comes with time, it comes with investing in them. They will be missed but it is an opportunity for the new kids to step up,” says Mokuena.


UJ has never lifted the coveted trophy, however, Mokuena hopes that this is the year they tell a different story.  


“That is ultimately our goal, and we want to make the university proud.”


According to Mokuena, the squad’s numerous warm-up games leading up to the showpiece, including their encounter against the Northam Platinum Rhinos, which saw them win by a whopping 59-14 was an indicator of areas that the team still needs to improve. It also showed how the players handle pressure.


“I wanted to see what the players are like when the environment is a challenge. When we played Rhinos, we were on a bus for three hours, played the game and then on the bus for another three hours. For me it’s to see their character. Of course, you cannot simulate the real thing, but we tried to create as close to the game.”


The Orange Army will travel to Bloemfontein to face FNB CUT on Monday 19 February in their opening game of the 2024 season.


PROVISIONAL SQUAD (Subject to change):

 Ughan Africa, Philip Apea Adu, Damian Baker, Oela Blaauw, David Cary, Kirwan Cupido, Marius Coetzee, Shah Jehaan de Jongh, Sfiso Dlamini, Testimony Dodo, Likhona Finca, Athini Galada, Ali Gqaza, Dieter Groenewald, Bian Janse van Rensburg, Kamva Kalipa, Kurtley Kiewit, Meyer Kriel, Bandile Lekhuleni, Janiel Losper, Rowan Malgas, Ryan Marimo, Kamohelo Rorisang, Divan Moss, KB Mothlajwe, Walter Moyo, Francois Pretorius, Aiden Muller, Siyemukela Ndlovu, Prince Nkabinde, Ace Nongongo, Len Pelser, Liam Rowan, Jody Schambreel, RF Schoeman, Riaan Swart, Franco Schutte, Keagan Smith, Andrew Siminyu, Christopher Sjoblom, Kgothatso Sono, JP Swanepoel, Mauritz Swart, Eric Taute, Indi Tyeda, Likhaya Tengimfene, Connor van Buuren, Tiaan Wessels, Katlego Xaba


by Karabo Peter

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