Clever Boys look to end on a high
The Clever Boys, who are the basement dwellers in Group C, will welcome Djoliba of Mali to the Johannesburg Stadium (6pm kick-off), playing for pride as they can no longer challenge for a top two finish.
However, they can exit the tournament with their heads held high, especially after former club chief executive José Ferreira had announced that they wouldn’t be treating the continental showpiece as a priority due to insufficient playing personnel and financial woes.
But being a serial winner with an urge to compete against the best on the continent, Wits coach Gavin Hunt clearly didn’t conform to Ferreira’s orders, inspiring his troops to the group stage of the competition, where they are grouped alongside Djoliba, Al-Nasr and Horoya AC.
Wits’ inexperience in the tournament was exposed from the outset, though, after salvaging only two draws, while losing three matches in their last five outings.
However, while the results were not favourable, there will be a lot of positives gathered by Hunt and his troops.
Youngsters Molahleli Khunyedi, 19, and Rowan Human, 18, made their debuts on the club’s African safari, something that was an indication that when you do well, regardless of age and experience, you’ll get your chance to play.
But in the bigger scheme of things that must have been a learning curve for everyone associated with the club - management, technical team and players - that the experience that’s gathered around the continent goes a long way in redefining the brand.
After all, Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who’ve been in the Champions League for the last six years, are a prime example of that, showing that when a team has a balanced squad they are able to compete on all fronts.
And with Wits having bolstered their squad with Eva Nga, Lorenzo Gordinho and Kgaogelo Sekgota during the ongoing transfer window, that is an indication that the team could be well thinking of making a return to Africa later this year.
That sort of regular exposure around the continent and additions to the squad will give Hunt plenty of room to believe he’s equipped with the right personnel that could very well push Kaizer Chiefs for the Premiership title this season.
The Clever Boys are fifth on the log standings with 30 points, 15 behind Chiefs, who’ve played four games more.
And that is why it becomes imperative that teams should avoid any slip-ups as that could very well ruin their campaigns.
For Wits, winning against the west Africans could very well give them a subtantial boost heading into the rest of their matches from next week, where they’ll host struggling Black Leopards in the league, and their short away trip to high-flying Orlando Pirates in the opening round of the Nedbank Cup.