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Table-topping Wits buoyant ahead of tricky Egypt trip

PSL
JOHANNESBURG - With several of their big-name players watching from the stands on Tuesday night, Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt boxed cleverly in orchestrating an important win against Golden Arrows for the Clever Boys to go top of the Absa Premiership standings.

It’s the second half of the 3-0 victory that pleased Hunt most - affirmation that maybe it is possible to go on without Nazeer Allie, James Keene, Daine Klate and Granwald Scott.

“Our squad in the stands is getting bigger,” Hunt lamented the growing injury list. “With our situation at the moment, and big players that are out, I thought others stepped up and we were good.”

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Mogakolodi Ngele celebrates one of his two goals in Tuesday's win over Golden Arrows. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Wits went into the half-time break leading by a single goal courtesy of a well-taken penalty by the club’s leading scorer, Gabadinho Mhango.

It had looked like it would be one of those scrappy games decided by a small margin until Mogakolodi Ngele, who hasn’t seen much game time in the league this season, scored twice to put the clash beyond Arrows, making it quite comfortable for the home side.

“I said to them at half-time that the game was on a knife-edge and could go either way,” Hunt explained his approach. “It is not that they (Arrows) were on top or had great chances, but we don’t want to let it slip now. I thought the concentration was good. If you are going to go far in the league, and this (title race) is going right until the end, you need to concentrate.

“And we were excellent in doing that. You have to chase lost causes when you play football. I thought we did that on the night. We haven’t played well recently. Yes, we were winning but this was much better. We were economical with our play and we shifted the ball well in the last 20 minutes. We were good.”

With that kind of mentality, Wits will have a say as to where the championship lands this season. The Clever Boys are away in Alexandria, Egypt, this weekend for the second leg of their CAF Confederation Cup play-off against Smouha, who held them to a goalless draw at Bidvest Stadium last weekend. When they return home, their next five fixtures could decide the title.

“The old adage is that if you win your home games and try not to drop points away you won’t be too far away (from the top). We have Cape Town City, SuperSport United, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns in the next four games,” Hunt said. 

“The title will be determined by that, won’t it? We would like to think the fact that we are playing some of those matches at home gives us an advantage, but they are good sides. But which players will we have left by then? That is another story all together. 

"When I played football we had squads of 16 and played in a 20-team league and played double-headers every weekend with the same 11 players throughout the season. I don’t know what the problem is with our players today and the injuries. You tell me.”

The Star

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