Tafelzucht target top spot

HBUFC’s Lelethu Sotyantya gives her marker, FC Tafelzucht’s Sabiera Hellum the slip, during her side’s1-0 defeat in a regional women’s league fixture, at Rocklands, earlier this season.
FC Tafelzucht’s Ra’eesa Satardien glances over with Jennifer Martin hot on her heels during the regional women’s league fixture. Tafelzucht won 1-0.
FC Tafelzucht’s Tracy Jacobs and Hout Bay’s Zona Sobekwa battle for possession inches above the ground.

With Safa Cape Town’s regional women’s league at the mid-way mark, FC Tafelzucht can afford to breathe a collective sigh of relief before heading into the second round of matches.

As things stand, they find themselves second on the log, one point behind log leaders Hout Bay United, whom they beat 1-0, at Rocklands, earlier this season.

The women’s regional league has two streams, A and B with Tafelzucht in Stream A, along with seven other sides. Stream B has 10 sides. The winners of both streams will lock horns come the end of the season, to determine the ultimate winner.

First round matches were completed at the weekend, leaving Zucht with a game in hand, as their match against Real Brazilians, which was scheduled for last week, was postponed after some players tested positive for coronavirus.

Dr Nasief van der Schyff, chairperson of Safa Cape Town’s Medical and Sports Science Committee, said there should be no cause for concern, as long as necessary precautions as prescribed by government and health authorities are implemented. “As long as all protocols are followed, football will continue,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tafelzucht have been in fine form this season, winning five of their six matches in the first round. Their only defeat came against Khayelitsha’s Goal Hunters a few weeks ago but they bounced back to beat Clyde Pinelands 2-1, in their last match, a fortnight ago.

Having been in fine form since the start of the campaign, last week’s postponement might either break their momentum or be a blessing in disguise, says team manager, Sameemah Satarien, depending on how they react.

Satarien says they are aware of the implications and the players and technical staff will respond accordingly.

“Of course, we have been in a good run of form, performing well consistently. Some might think the postponement was a bad thing but, it may be a blessing in disguise. It gave us time to regroup and refresh before our next match. On top of that, safety of the players and everyone involved is important,” she said.

Hard to miss in their familiar lime and navy strip, the squad is now gearing up for a double header this weekend, against Manenberg on Saturday and the resumption of their postponed encounter against Real Brazilians on Sunday. Satarien said they know what to expect from their opponents, as they have faced both teams previously.

“Manenberg Ladies, on the one hand, is a team that come from the Sasol League. They have quality players who are capable of winning them matches on any given day. But, having said that, we will be ready for whatever they throw at us,” she said.

Satarien noted that their match against Real Brazilians on Sunday will provide them with a different challenge, because the Brazilians will, on paper, come with the underdog tag.

“Yes, we have beaten them convincingly before but that doesn’t mean they will be a walkover. I know we will come up against a different, and better, Brazilians side this time around. We have seen teams getting better with time and they are no different. We cannot underestimate any team,” she said.

Satarien said women’s football has improved in the past five years or so, with the introduction of a number of leagues.

“Women’s football is growing but of course, there is room for improvement. We have experienced a lot of challenges recently, especially Covid-19 related challenges. Some fields, for instance, haven’t been available, which meant that teams had to travel distances to play ‘home’ matches.”

Her own side has also grown from strength to strength since its formation in 2016. It is no exaggeration to say they have, over the years, punched above their weight.

“When we started out, we played in the Development League which we won. Then we went all the way to the Regional League, where we always finished in the top three,” she said.

“We take women’s football seriously and of course, there have been challenges. Our players, for instance, come from everywhere, Mitchell’s Plain, Manenberg, Grassy Park and elsewhere. This provided us with logistical challenges. We have to make sure we transport the girls to and from training in the evenings. But, it has been worth it,” she said.

Meanwhile, high-flying Rocklands outfit, Hot Spurs cemented their spot on top of the log in Stream B when they beat neighbours Strandfontein 2-0 and Gugulethu’s Winnies Ladies FC 9-2, at the weekend.

– Additional reporting by Fuad Esack