With these words, Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt conceded that the Absa Premiership title race will go right down to the wire, possibly with a few twists and turns. Wits face struggling Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa on Friday night and must win to edge closer to their championship dream, especially after being shocked in a 1-0 defeat at home against SuperSport United on Tuesday night.
“Every game is a big game for us because we have matches every three days now,” Hunt said. “Our concern is that we haven’t been scoring goals from open play in our last four or five games to win matches, but there is still some way to go. We may have to do it the hard way.”
The defeat to SuperSport, who are also in with a chance of winning the title, pushed Wits down to third place - four points behind leaders Cape Town City, but with two games in hand and still giving the Clever Boys a real chance of controlling their own fate as far as the championship goes.
“Our players in the final third haven’t done the business. We didn’t score against the Egyptian side (over two legs against Smouha in the CAF Confederation Cup play-off) and we had to rely on a penalty against Cape Town City last week. It’s disconcerting. We got ourselves into a good situation and we need to try and capitalise because from day one in this league it’s always been about results and not pretty football.”
Another of Hunt’s concerns is that Wits have hardly put together a convincing winning streak in the last few weeks - something that is in the DNA of would-be champions.
“It has gotten harder and harder with every game, certainly,” said Hunt. “We are going to have to try and be a little more competitive. If anything, we should have had a draw at worst against SuperSport. I think the last two games have thrown us off a little. We should have won last week as well, but we are making horrendous errors at the back, which is supposed to be the strongest area of our team.”
Wits had boasted an impressive record at home in the league this season until Tuesday’s defeat, having lost once in nine games before SuperSport altered those statistics. After taking on second-from-bottom Highlands Park on Friday night, they have Mamelodi Sundowns visiting on Monday and then Orlando Pirates at their university grounds on Thursday.
It would work in their favour if Wits get three points against the relegation candidates with SuperSport and Kaizer Chiefs in action a day later in Nelspruit.
SuperSport, according to Kaitano Tembo, who is standing in for Stuart Baxter after the head coach was admitted to hospital a day before they faced Wits due to some discomfort and is on medical leave, still have an outside chance of being crowned champions despite being nine points adrift of leaders City, who beat Chiefs 3-2 in a thrilling league fixture at the Cape Town Stadium the same night SuperSport sucker-punched a dominant Wits.
“We have shown that our players have unbelievable character after we played 120 minutes against Chiefs (in the Nedank Cup quarter-final win) three days earlier. We want to still be in the mix,” said Tembo.