Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt is confident his tea can perform against Pamplemousses SC. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Bidvest Wits appear to have an easier route to the CAF Champions League group stages this year having had to tackle eight-time winners Al Ahly of Egypt to reach that point of the competition almost a year ago.

Pamplemousses SC, who play in the Mauritian topflight, are up first over two legs this month preliminary round before the Clever Boys have to travel to either neighbouring countries Angola or Zimbabwe should they progress.

“I didn’t think we were too bad against Al Ahly. It wasn’t a problem. I mean the (aggregate) score was 1-0 because, as much as we tried, we couldn’t score ourselves,” said Wits coach Gavin Hunt.

It’s true. The Clever Boys were indeed impressive against their North African counterparts, who are more experienced in this competition and knew how to protect their slender lead over the two matches.

Pamplemousses will be a different kettle of fish  a closed book that, on paper at least, shouldn’t prove too hard to negotiate past.

“I’ve got to see what we find out about them. I don’t even know what colours they wear,” said Hunt about tonight’s Champions League opponents.

Kick-off is at 6pm at Bidvest Stadium.

“It’s the luck of the bounce, the luck of the draw in the Champions League, I always say. You could get through by fluke, get one goal and sit in there and wait. But we will worry about these things when we get there. Our problem this season has been that we are not the most free-scoring team. You would hope being in this competition will help us get the confidence back, but when you have four against three or two against three in an attacking situation and can’t score, then you have a problem.”

Wits are licking their wounds following their Nedbank Cup last 32 elimination at home against Cape Town City on Wednesday night. It was the fourth time this season that Hunt’s men lost to Benni McCarthy’s team, making them some sort of a bogey team.

Hunt has also said before that the Champions League could be a way to challenge his players to get used to success.

The coach argued several weeks ago that their poor start to the 2017-18 campaign has been down to the club not being able to build on their Absa Premiership title winning season in May last year, which guaranteed them a place in the continent’s premium club tournament.

Getting into the group stages of the Champions League will certainly test their character and the depth of the squad, one which seems balanced and has more depth after Hunt strengthened it with five new signings during last month’s transfer window.

One of those new boys in leftback Keegan Ritchie will make his debut against Pamplemousses tonight for Sifiso Hlanti, who should be rested after suffering a cut above his eye in a clash of heads with Craig Martin on Wednesday.

Martin himself could be ruled out of City’s own CAF sojourn as they face Young Buffaloes from Swaziland away from home in the first leg of the Confederation Cup’s preliminary round on the same day.


Saturday Star

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