Even after his team beat Mamelodi Sundowns and more surprisingly with relative ease, Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt does not believe the Clever Boys can mount a tangible challenge for the Absa Premiership title.
The former SuperSport United coach, who watched as his boys romped to a 3-1 victory to dent Sundowns’ title hopes, suggested Wits are not the finished product, but feels he will have a squad to compete seriously for the title next season. Wits are in third place, nine points behind table-topping Kaizer Chiefs with 12 matches still to play in the campaign.
“I don’t think we have the squad. I know we will have the squad next season. It’s a hell of an ask for us (to win the league this season).
“We have some tough away games. I think next week when we play against all the bottom teams we will get an answer,” Hunt said as the Clever Boys maintained their unbeaten record at home this season. “At the beginning of the season, we did not even think we would come close.”
Despite playing down his side’s chances of winning the league, Hunt cannot be ruled out of the race having won the title three times in a row with SuperSport. And besides, he is no stranger to playing mind games.
“Yeah, I know where to, how to and what to do, and how not to do it. But I still think we need the personnel. But we will see. There is a long way to go.
“I think Chiefs would have to have a huge meltdown. I know, I have been there. We (at SuperSport) were 12 points behind Sundowns and we went on to win the league. Anything can happen. But I feel Chiefs have a very experienced squad and they will be tough to beat. They are the favourites.”
Hunt reserved special praise for Tebogo Moerane, the Under-20 international left-back who came in for suspended Onismor Bhasera.
Moerane created the opener for Sthembiso Ngcobo as Wits levelled matters and then made a timely tackle before the break to deny Sundowns’ Rodney Ramagalela a chance of shooting at goal.
“He is fantastic. He is one for the future. Tactically, he needs a bit of work, but he has got fantastic technique. He can pass the ball. He understands when to drop and when to go tight.”
Hunt’s counterpart, Pitso Mosimane, did not have key men Khama Billiat, Hlompho Kekana, Katlego Mashego and captain Alje Schut, but refused to blame the club’s second straight defeat on the absence of these influential men.
“No, no, no. It’s not easy, but we do have the players. We have to continue,” he said.
Sundowns were denied what looked a legitimate goal when Ramagalela headed home but was ruled offside. Had it been given, Sundowns would have gone 2-1 up and could have changed the outcome of the game, but Mosimane does not share the same feeling.
“We could have played this game until tomorrow, but we would not have scored. We got our chances, but we did not take them. I am very disappointed with the loss. We will keep trying. If we don’t win the league, then maybe it’s not meant to be (this season).”
Mosimane was not impressed with substitute Lebohang Mokoena, who was booked for simulation in the opposition box minutes after coming on late in the game.
“He dived, the referee was spot on and I don’t tolerate it. I don’t believe we should score goals and celebrate a penalty like that. It’s not right. We are fair (and) we are honest.”
Dove Wome scored after just five minutes to give Sundowns the lead, but Wits responded emphatically with goals from Ngcobo, Matthew Booth and Calvin Kadi as Wits moved level on points on the log with the visitors. - The Star