JOHANNESBURG – Bidvest Wits face Nigeria’s Enyimba for a place in the group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup this afternoon, but if coach Gavin Hunt’s post-match comments following the 2-0 defeat to Mamelodi Sundowns at the weekend are some way to measure what to expect, then it is very likely this is the end of the road for the Clever Boys.
Hunt made it clear that a strong finish, that presumably being to break into the top eight of the Absa Premiership table, was the outgoing league champions' priority in the remaining few weeks of the season - and very little else.
The coach did, however, indicate in that same statement that he anticipated to see a much more determined group of players in the remaining four league matches - and maybe even in this second leg of the Confederation Cup away to Enyimba, who held them to a 1-1 draw at Bidvest Stadium two weeks ago.
Hunt said he would leave some key players behind to avoid any injuries ahead of Sunday’s home fixture against Polokwane City, who are in danger of being relegated if results keep going against them.
Wits are currently in 10th place and have lost back to back league matches, hurting their chances of moving up the table and adding more misery to their woeful start to the season.
The reigning champions were rooted to the foot of the table at Christmas and went on to blow an opportunity to play in the more prestigious Champions League when Angola’s Primeiro de Agosto beat them on penalties last month.
Hunt’s side had an easier passage to the group stages of the Champions League this year than the previous season when they had to battle eight-times champions Al Ahly for a place in that phase of the competition.
Enyimba host them today with the advantage of having scored a crucial away goal and Wits, with their poor away record in CAF tournaments, are unlikely to come back home having claimed the big scalp of their Nigerian counterparts.
But there is hope.