Bidvest Wits’ coach Gavin Hunt says his team is determined to make their outing in the CAF Confederation Cup a success as it presents a different ball game to domestic football.
Despite finishing in the top three in the past few seasons, and subsequently qualifying for continental football, the Clever Boys have had a hard time in making it past the gruelling preliminary rounds and play-offs.
However, after finishing third last season, Hunt’s men grabbed the opportunity to play in the Confederation Cup this term by the scruff of the neck.
Wits brushed aside Eswatini side Young Buffaloes in the preliminary rounds, before they cruised past UD Songo of Mozambique in the play-offs, joining Horoya AC, Djoliba and Al-Nasr in Group C of the Pan-African competition.
The South Africans began their group stage campaign with a 0-0 home draw with Guinean giants Horoya, before they suffered a slender 1-0 away defeat to Malian side Djoliba.
And Hunt is pleased with the experience they’ve garnered around the continent so far.
“Africa makes you stronger, physically and emotionally. I can already see one or two of our players growing. So, it’s really good for our players, and that’s why we need to be there,” he said.
“Don’t believe people when they say we don’t want to be there, we do. It’s a different game completely, not like the PSL which is fast. It’s a physical game, strength-wise, and it’s tactically good as well.”
Hunt’s men have punched above their weight to get where they are in the competition, especially after the announcement that was made by then CEO Jose Ferreira in July.
In a media briefing at the club headquarters, Ferreira remarked that they’ll not be taking the Pan-African competition seriously, unless it was the CAF Champions League, due to the club’s financial woes and inadequate playing personnel to successfully compete in both the domestic and continental football.
While pushing as far as they can on the continent is important for the Clever Boys, domestic football remains a top priority.
On Friday night, the Clever Boys wrapped up their year on a high note as they defeated Cape Town City 2-0 to ensure they went into the Christmas break with 23 points with three games in hand over leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
Hunt, though knows that they’ll need to grind for results in January in order to capitalise on their catch up matches.
“We are behind (but) there’s still a long way to go. January is hectic for us, playing and travelling," he said, regarding league and continental obligations.
Wits will be hoping for their first group stage victory when they welcome Kuwaitian side Al-Nasr to the Dobsonville Stadium on Sunday.