JOHANNESBURG – A fuming Gavin Hunt on Tuesday night vowed to freeze out some of his fringe players following Wits’ shock exit from the Nedbank Cup after a 5-4 penalty shoot-out defeat to NFD side Jomo Cosmos.
Cosmos looked the better side throughout, even taking the lead on the stroke of halftime when Linda Mntambo broke the deadlock before the break. Hunt said it was then that he realised the Clever Boys were in for a tough night and that some of his non-regulars were simply below par.
The coach made two changes before the second half, bringing on veteran Daine Klate and speedster Phakamani Mahlambi for the ineffective pair of Jabulani Shongwe and Ejike Uzoenyi.
Klate provided the assist for Mogakolodi Ngele to head home the equaliser after the hour mark.
It was a strong statement by Hunt, who has said, on numerous occasions this season, that his squad this campaign is much better than it has been in the four years he has been at Wits.
On Tuesday night, while he did not single out any player after the match at the Tsakane Stadium, Hunt suggested that it may be curtains for some of them as the club missed out on adding the Nedbank Cup to their MTN8 trophy, which they won in October last year.
“Nobody will remember how Cosmos got through, but they got through, so congratulations to them and we’ve got to give them credit. But we’ve also got to look at our own players. I gave some players a chance tonight and they didn’t do it for us,” a visibly unhappy Hunt, pictured, said.
“They complain (that they are not playing enough) and now you see what happens. You see why they don’t play. That is the biggest disappointment because we need our squad. We need every player and I gave a few a chance and should have taken them off after five minutes. It hurts because you want to get in the Cup final and this was a great chance for us to get into the next round and keep going as well as use our squad. Now there will be a few of them eliminated – they will be out and won’t play again. They will get no chance.”
Wits host Egyptian side Smouha on Saturday in the first leg of their Caf Confederation Cup play-off as they look to book their place in the group stages of the competition following elimination from the Champions League last month.
Meanwhile, Hunt’s counterpart, Jomo Sono, made a bold statement when he argued that the only difference between top-flight clubs and their NFD rivals was the monthly grant they receive from the PSL as there was no huge gap in quality.
“In football terms there is no difference,” he said.
“We took them on and I thought we played very well. The NFD teams are fitter because they run the whole day. There are no tactics there, just running. We knew if we go to extra time their players will start going down. This will be a confidence booster for our players to have a good run. We can still win promotion to the Premier League.”