UJ Women FC’s Consecutive Win In Hollywoodbets Super League

UJ’s Women Football Club earns more bragging rights in the Hollywoodbets Super League after winning consecutively at home ground in Soweto and away in Durban.

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By Rethabile Nyelele
Images by Magnificent Mndebele

The UJ Women Football Club (FC) walked away with three points during a head-to-head match with the Durban Ladies FC on Tuesday at the Hollywoodbets Super League held in Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont, about 21km away from Durban. 

In the first half of the match, the UJ team fell behind the Durban Ladies, who were leading with one goal in their home pitch.

But in a remarkable return in the second half, the UJ Women’s team scored and finally won the game 2-1. This is their second victory after they won 5-1 against Golden Ladies Football Club (FC) last Saturday in the poorly attended UJ Soweto Stadium.

The Saturday game commenced with UJ applying pressure from the first minute when defender Kabelo Mokoena scored the first goal. The first few minutes seemed heated up as the UJ ladies dominated the game.

While the Golden Ladies were still blinded by the first goal, UJ Women FC’s captain, Refilwe Maseko, scored a second goal just under three minutes after the match commenced.

The home side was unstoppable.

UJ defeats the Golden Ladies

As the Golden Ladies began losing sight, UJ’s forward player, Keolebogile Putu, scored a third goal in less than ten minutes. Amid Golden Ladies frustrations, Innocentia Gaba of the Golden Ladies was given a yellow card after a foul play against UJ’s Rakgadi Kekana.

The Golden Ladies intensified their retaliation towards UJ. Selina Schalkwyk, the Golden Ladies forward player, got a hold of the ball and took her first on target shot.

Such an attempt was in vain as UJ goalkeeper, Elizabeth Mazivise, refused the ball to kiss the net. During multiple passes, the Golden Ladies tried to bank a goal but they still could not break UJ’s defence.

There seemed to be no hope for the Golden Ladies in the first half until the last few minutes where they got a free kick due to an offside. Just a little further from the eighteen area, the Golden Ladies’ middlefield player, Sonti Tsotetsi, took the free kick but Mazivize was hands on.

Trailing at half time, Golden Ladies began to control the pace of the game. Ten minutes into the second half, Schalkwyk scored a first goal against UJ in the 56th minute of the game. UJ made costly mistakes in the second half with Golden ladies putting up a fight and shots being saved by Mazivize.

UJ forward player, Amanda Mthandi, who was on the bench in the first half, snatched the dream of Golden Ladies to advance UJ to four goals in the 85th minute. The Golden Ladies were slowly drifting away and allowed the UJ captain Maseko to score a fifth goal exactly 90 minutes into the game. Maseko’s goal braced for the day and gave UJ’s team its first home win.

“We came back from a loss; we did not lose because we’re a bad team but due to our mistakes. It’s been tough since the beginning of this year, but we made sure to never repeat the mistakes in this game,” said Anna Monate, UJ Women’s team head coach, adding that her UJ team, which only has two losses since the League started, is special to her and wants to lay a proper foundation for the players.

Yet, for the Golden Ladies, this marked another week of defeat.

“What we could have done better as a team is to convert all the chances we got, it would have changed the shape of the game. We lacked composure with the ball,” said disappointed Rebaone Merementsi, Golden Ladies captain. “We kept on losing the ball unnecessarily, especially going forward and that’s what killed us.”

More exposure needed for the League

The South African Football Association (SAFA) formed the League in 2019 and was previously dubbed as SAFA National Women’s League (SNWL).

The name change came after SAFA signed a year sponsorship deal with an option to renew with Hollywoodbets in 2021. In this 2022 Hollywoodbets Super League, which  consists of 16 teams and UJ is currently in fourth position, a winner stands a chance to receive R2M and an automatic entry into the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women’s League.

The runner up will get R1 million while the rest of the teams get R150K each. The Young Player of the Season, Coach of the Season and Player of the Season will each receive R50K.

With the exception of the fourteen teams that have been playing in the League, only City Lads from the Eastern Cape and Vasco da Gama from Western Cape were promoted to the League after winning first and second place in the 2021 Sasol League National Championships.

The games are played in all nine provinces. But only one game per weekend is televised on SABC 1. The Chief Operating Officer of SAFA, Lydia Monyepao, indicated that it is more important this year to have more exposure for women’s football compared to last year. Other alternatives of maximising exposure, Monyepao said, is to live stream games that will not be televised.

The league has potential scouts. And most players also want to end up at Banyana Banyana, the women’s national soccer team. In the past, the League failed to resolve problems faced by the teams. Among others, these issues include referees arriving late in the pitch and late payments of grants.

“We do not really get enough support, but it starts with us again; we need to start winning to get the support,” said Merementsi, the Golden Ladies’ captain. Despite being at the tail of the League at the 15th position, Merementsi is hopeful that the Golden Ladies could get better.

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