Can Hunt go full circle or will Pitso inch towards the treble?
JOHANNESBURG - There will be no love lost when Pitso Mosimane squares off against Gavin Hunt in a blockbuster Nedbank Cup semi-final encounter at Orlando Stadium tonight.
The big prize will be a spot in the final of the end-of-season knockout cup, but the fact that these two are the best “home-brewed” coaches will make for an interesting tactical battle.
Mamelodi Sundowns will continue with their search for a treble while Bidvest Wits will be aiming to end their chapter in top flight football on a high. The match kicks off at 7.30pm, while the first semi-final starts earlier at the same venue.
Mosimane and Hunt are rated among the most decorated elite managers in South African football. The pair boast four Absa Premiership triumphs under their belts and other multiple titles. They have been synonymous with success throughout their careers, so there’s little that separates them.
Mosimane has reigned supreme once in the Nedbank Cup since taking over the coaching reins at the Brazilians. Ironically, the Nedbank Cup was his maiden triumph at Chloorkop (Sundowns' base).
Since that success he has amassed four league crowns, CAF Champions League, CAF Super Cup and two Telkom Knockout titles.
Mosimane has turned Sundowns into a well-oiled machine that has dominated the league for more than half a decade.
This season they have already won the Telkom Knockout, beating Maritzburg United in the final at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
They are gunning for a hat-trick of league titles. They are four points behind log leaders Kaizer Chiefs with one game in hand. Winning the two remaining trophies will give Sundowns their first domestic treble with Mosimane.
These factors will be the driving motivation for Mosimane to be keen to get one over his Wits counterpart.
Hunt, on the other hand, has transformed The Clever Boys from perennial under-performers into winners. The only missing puzzle in Hunt’s list of accomplishments at Wits is the Nedbank Cup.
His maiden silverware in top flight football was SA’s version of the FA Cup, but he was still with Moroka Swallows then. They defeated Manning Rangers to be crowned champions.
Since then, Hunt has never looked back as he delivered a hat-trick of league titles for SuperSport United after replacing Mosimane at the club. His last piece of silverware with SuperSport was the Nedbank Cup when they brushed aside their Tshwane rivals, Sundowns, 2-0 at Orlando Stadium.
At Wits, Hunt has won the league, the MTN8 and the Telkom Knockout. He will be parting ways with them at the end of the season and he will hope to complete the circle by lifting the only trophy he hasn’t touched with the Milpark outfit.
Wits have sold their Premier Soccer League status to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila who indicated they won’t be able to afford Hunt.
Wits haven’t won the Nedbank Cup since 2010. In 2014, they came close with Hunt but were defeated by Orlando Pirates in Durban.
Hunt will be optimistic that this is the time. If there’s one thing that Hunt will be cognisant of, it is the fact that it won’t be easy against Mosimane. The man hates losing with all his heart.
Hunt has inflicted pain on Mosimane in the past, as he got the better of him in the MTN8 final in 2016.
Wits outplayed and outclassed Sundowns, trouncing them 3-0 at Mbombela Stadium. Hunt and his troops will be looking to replicate that form.