Croesus made a dominant return to the Sasol League National Championships play-offs in Bloemfontein after recording the biggest win on day one.
Having been the last team to qualify for the play-offs after concluding the Sasol League in Gauteng late, Croesus were expected to arrive in the City of Roses still fatigued.
Instead, they continued with the momentum as they thumped Sasol Juventus, from Mpumalanga, 5-1 on Tuesday afternoon.
It was the act of the day from coach Kanyisa Qina’s charges, with Portia Dube racking up a brace, while Lerato Ruele, Simthokozele Gaba and Lisbeth Tshabalala scored a goal each.
Juventus’ consolation was scored by Phumla Simela but that couldn’t break the spirit of Qina who said they want to improve from their semi-final finish two years ago.
“This is our second time here. The last time we made it through to the semi-final, but we didn’t make it. This time we’ve been prepared since pre-season,” Qina explained.
“The girls understand the assignment. We have a big squad – even though we suffered two injuries in the game. But we prepared very well for the tournament.”
Full Time.— Official SasolLeague (@SasolLeague) October 17, 2023
Croesus Ladies make a huge statement at the #SasolLeagueNationalChamps with a 5-1 victory over Sasol Juventus Ladies in the final match of day one.#LiveTheImpossible pic.twitter.com/hlpA8QOKLm
Sure, Croesus might have sent a strong message to the other eight participants that they’ll be the team to beat for the title come Sunday at the prestigious Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium.
But one of the teams that will not only be hoping to cause an upset by winning the title but by bagging the finalists’ finish which will see them promoted to the Super League next season is the University of Fort Hare.
The Eastern Cape debutants smashed Royal Wizards 4-2 in their match, Lime Sakela, Nizole Ngece, Zenande Baloyi and Nozikho Magqaza all getting the goals for the university.
Melisa Van Wyk and Hannah Mohapi tried to bring the Northern Cape-based side back into the game but it wasn’t to be, with UFH proving to be too good on the day.
UFH were not the only debutants that made a mark from the outset. Ramatlaohle Ladies thumped fellow newbies the University of Cape Town 3-1 in the opening match.
The Limpopo-based side won the match courtesy of goals from Dimakatso Sehlapo, Moetsi Dikgale and Tebogo Mnisi, while Alicia Terhardt got the Capetonians’ equaliser.
Ramatlaohle have ample confidence that they can follow in the footsteps of neighbours Copperbelts Ladies who won the National Champs on home soil, Polokwane, in the last edition.
But importantly, they want to add another Limpopo representative in the Super League, having MaIndies sadly guaranteed relegation come the end of the season.
“We are motivated. We are not going to push harder. We can already see that MaIndies are out of the Super League, and we want to replace them,” Ramatlaohle's coach Betty Maseko said.
“We want to gain promotion and make sure we have three teams from Limpopo. It’s better to have a big number in a province as it saves in terms of traveling.”
UFH v Lindelani Ladies @9am
Croesus v Royal Queens @12.30pm
Ramatlaohle v Ixias FC @15.30pm