JOHANNESBURG – Nothing has changed for these two sides in the new year – Bidvest Wits still look like relegation candidates and Free State Stars are very much dark horses in the Absa Premiership title race.
And it looks like coach Gavin Hunt’s attempts to freshen things up with four players this month, three of them making their debuts for Wits here on Friday night, have not given his side the revival they are looking for as they remain bottom of the log after 15 games.
A grimacing read for the title holders.
Stars, the visitors on the night, had just one player making his first appearance for the club and looked the well-oiled machined coach Luc Eymael has slowly turned them into.
The football is far from expansive or attractive, but results count more, which can’t be said about Wits.
Hunt didn’t waste time introducing Edwin Gyimah, Sifiso Myeni and Lehlohonolo Majoro, the trio who arrived this month as soon as the transfer window opened.
It’s obvious he was looking to them to give the Clever Boys impetus and lift the team’s performance as the threat of relegation becomes ever so real for the defending champions.
But it was instead Ea Lla Koto who struck after 33 minutes through defender Thamsanqa Teyise, a well-taken volley to beat goalkeeper Darren Keet.
Wits had been by far the better team before then, Majoro, especially, lively and giving the Stars back four something to think about as he ran between the lines and looked for goal scoring opportunities. But he squandered them when they came – a wayward shot that should have been on target in the first half and an unbelievable sitter in the second, which should have put Wits level.
The visitors continued to defend for their lives knowing the result would push them to second of the Premier League table and just three points behind log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who now have two matches in hand. Eymael has said that his target is to finish in the top eight with a side that has survived relegation in the final weeks of the previous three seasons, and he is well on his way there if Stars carry on in this fashion.
Wits have got their work cut out and Hunt has said they will look to bring in more players during this window.
Although Majoro worked hard on the night and really should have bagged at least one goal, Gyimah and Myeni overall had a quiet game – forgettable debuts, if you can call it that for Myeni, who is returning from his loan spell at SuperSport United, who come here on Wednesday night.
Bidvest Wits (0) 0
Free State Stars (1) 1