Masi Pumas bare their teeth

Masi's Xolani Mahlulo fends off the Khayelitsha Crusaders defenders during the clash at the weekend.

It was a tough day at the office for the team from the deep south, but the players from Masiphumelele RFC got some much needed competition when they took part in the Vulisango Solomon tournament in Langa on Saturday.

The tournament was organised as a fund-raiser for former Busy Bees utility forward, Vulisango Solomon, who got injured during his side’s Sunday League match against Young Ideas back in 2005.

While most clubs are enjoying the well-deserved mid-season break after a gruelling first round, the Masiphumelele side doesn’t have that luxury.

Masiphumelele struggled to get victories under their belt in the first round of the season and that meant the break is time to go back to the drawing board.

The tournament in Langa was also what they needed, as they are in the process of fine-tuning their skills ahead of the second round. In the tournament that saw 14 teams taking part, Masiphumelele drew 17-all with Khayelitsha’s Crusaders.

Coach Siyasanga Mkiva said his side played well on Saturday even though they were not at full strength.

“The guys gave their best performance, and they were focused on the game. It felt like they were hungry for the match because it’s been a long time since they last played,” he said.

Mkiva said the players are well are aware of the task ahead of them and the fact that there’s no room and time for taking things easy.

“I told the guys that we are not on holiday, we are here to win a match and to build towards the second leg of the league. The guys didn’t take it easy as I told them we needed to win the match (against Crusaders) so that we could gain confidence going forward,” he said.

“They (Crusaders) did ask a few questions on attack but our defence was good. They scored from our mistakes and that’s one thing I’m not happy with. We need to keep the ball and not throw it away.”

He said they will continue working hard on their game so that the players would be in shape come Saturday, July 16, when they take on Scottsdene Central away in their first match after the break.

“We had normal practise sessions every week where we tried new things. I was happy the guys bought the new structure I’ve implemented and it is coming along well, so I’m happy for now. We will see what happens in the league,” he said.

Mkiva also noted that the competitive match practice they got on Saturday will go a long way in keeping the players rust-free during the break.

“Six weeks is very long time and the players do need match fitness because, even though they practice every week, they still need a match with other opposition to test our structures, as we were trying new things,” he said.

To their credit, the side did not play badly; they just couldn’t get the results to go their way. They need to turn opportunities into results.

They have six tough matches to play before the end of the season and that means the side will have to win most, if not all, of those matches, if they are to lift themselves off the relegation zone.

“We’ve lost all eight games in the league so far and, from now on, every single game will be a final to us.

“We’ve been trying new things at practise to improve our finishing. Other than that, we are not going to change much. At least now we know how to win, so I hope that rubs on the players,” he said.