JOHANNESBURG – Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt is faced with a selection headache ahead of their Telkom Knockout last-16 clash against their bogey team Free State Stars.
Wits will open their title defence against Stars at Goble Park this Saturday (3:30pm).
In their preparation the Clever Boys were without eight regulars who were on international duty. They included defenders Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhlebuyeza Mkhwanazi as well as Sifiso Hlanti, who featured in Bafana Bafana’s back-to-back encounters against Seychelles.
“Free State Stars have had a full team in training in the previous week or so, while on the other hand, we’ve had a number of players away on international duty,” Hunt explained. “I’ll see who comes back, but we’ve got a decent squad, hence I am sure one or two might be left out.
Not having all of our players did affect us on how we wanted to train, so we won’t train any further but we’ll just pick a team and go down there on (tomorrow).”
The Clever Boys go into this match high in confidence as they currently sit at the summit of the Absa Premiership log standings. However, for Ea Lla Koto it’s been a different kettle of fish as they haven’t had the best run in domestic football so far. “If you compare last season to this one, yes I would agree that they have had a bad start but there’s not much that separates them from the top,” Hunt insisted.
“Maybe they punched above their weight last season, because they had a good season together with a cup final. It’s the same with us, I think we haven’t played any better this season compared to the last, it’s just that this time we scored a couple of goals.”
The 54-year-old coach is not getting carried away by their fine start this campaign; to him it’s about taking each match as it comes. One of the new players that has inspired that form is Scotland-born striker Simon Murray. Murray has been impressive so far as he’s scored three goals in his eight league appearances so far.
Hence, Hunt has challenged the country’s big three clubs - Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates - to lure more top European players into the league.
“There’s no money in Europe, I think some players are even earning better here,” Hunt insisted.
“In the ‘70s, I think we brought in world class players. I am talking about players that won world cups, and I think we need to bring that culture back. Why would Wayne Rooney go to America and not Chiefs?
I mean there are certain clubs that can pay, and we need to give the league a boost.”