Black Leopards focus on the future

Captain Marks Munyai eyes Absa Premiership.

MOYAHABO MABEBA

FOR a team whose origin, history and oral tradition are steeped in Venda devotion, captaining Black Leopards comes with immense responsibility.

This is the demanding responsibility the club’s incumbent skipper Marks Munyai has taken by the scruff of the neck – in the literal sense.

So steeped in Venda folklore, legend has it that more frequently, pre-match and halftime pep talks are often conducted in the TshiVenda language.

In an interview, the 26-year-old lad from Masakona village made it abundantly clear that their mission this time around is to go straight to the Absa Premiership without having to engage in promotional play-offs.

Leopards came close to returning to the Premiership, but their hopes were halted by fellow Limpopo strugglers, Baroka FC, during the relegation-promotional play-offs.

Munyai, who play a fundamental role as a right-back, said they have put that fiasco in the past and have regrouped.

“The play-offs were an eyeopener. We have learnt a lot from that experience and this time we are going to do thing differently. This was evident enough by winning our first game when we beat Mbombela United 1-0.

“This really showed how determined we were that this season we mean business.”

However, it seemed, that victory by a solitary goal led to complacency as they were seen lowering their guards as they played to a 2-all stalemate with Ubuntu Cape Town.

Lidoda Duvha are still licking their wounds after a 1-0 defeat in the hands of Uthongathi FC at the Princes Magogo stadium.

But this are set to change as the captain of the ship says from now on, they are determined to fire from all cylinders. They are to meet Stellebosch FC at Parow Park Stadium on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 3pm.

Munyai said: “We are a different team from the previous side. Not only has the line-up changed, but even the mindset is more positive than ever. The mood in the camp is very high. There is focus during practice sessions and eagerness ahead of every match. Henceforth, every game is going to be treated like a cup final. Our mission is not going to be easy, but everyone in the team knows that, that mission very much possible.”

Since promoted to the elite league in the 2000/1 season, Lidoda Duvha has been notorious for their yoyo-like tendency of being in and out of the premier league and when Baroka condemned them to their second tier of South African football, the mood in the far north hasn’t been a pleasant one.

But Munyai has vowed to put smiles on the face of the hordes who brave the sweltering heat of Venda to go and support the marauding Leopards.

He has put faith in the team’s defence department that features full-back John Muganga and leftback Lebogang Mabotja.

Munyai, who joined the team in 2006, said: “Our backline is very solid… we complement each well. With a comprehensive communication plan, we make the job easier for our midfielders.” Other NFD fixtures

Saturday, September 16

  • University of Pretoria vs Royal Eagles (Tuks)
  • Highlands Park vs TTM FC (Makhulong)
  • Real Kings vs Ubuntu Cape Town (Sugar Ray Xulu)
  • Mthatha Bucks vs Witbank Spurs (Mthatha)
  • Super Eagles vs Uthongathi FC (Goble Park) Sunday, September 17
  • Jomo Cosmos vs Richards Bay FC (Vosloorus)
  • Cape Town All Stars vs Mbombela United (Athlone)

All games start at 3pm

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