DURBAN - While defending PSL champions Bidvest Wits hope to kick on from the weekend’s Telkom Knockout triumph, their coach Gavin Hunt believes the advantage rests with Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United.
Injuries, suspensions and players performing below their potential are some of the factors Hunt reckons places them on the back foot in defence of the title. From 11 league outings the Students have just two victories and nine points.
Saturday night’s cup success against Bloemfontein Celtic in Durban, courtesy of a last minute goal from substitute Vincent Pule, wasn’t vintage Wits and Hunt conceded that “the game could have gone either way.”
“The four games that we won in the cup, if we’d won them in the league we’d be on top of the league; that’s how crazy it is at the moment," Hunt said. “In the league the team at the top doesn’t even have two points a game.
"We are 10 points behind with a game in hand; we’re bottom and they’re top. It’s crazy. I don’t think many teams are going to get over 60 points. SuperSport can and Sundowns can because they have good positions in the league and they’ve got the squads. The rest of us will try to catch up.”
It helps though that the defensive foundation of their league triumph is restored and Malawian attacker Gabadinho Mhango is back from suspension. He featured in the final but is still not at his sharpest.
“When we get our players back we’re a different team. We look different defensively. I thought defensively we were good. Then they hit the post but I thought 90 minutes overall we were okay,” Hunt said after his reunited back line registered a second straight clean sheet in the final.
With Nazeer Allie and Buhle Mkhwanazi fit again, they rejoined Thulani Hlatshwayo and Sfiso Hlanti for the first time this campaign when they registered a goalless result at Maritzburg United last week. On Wednesday Wits host Ajax Cape Town, who are also on nine points, and Hunt expects to adjust his squad again.
“We’ll try and juggle a little and see what condition we’re in, but I can’t change too much because we don’t have too much,” he said of their attacking resources. “Pule is not really a striker type, he’s more of a wide player but we played him there because we didn’t really have (options). Last year we had but this year not too much in that position,” said Hunt.
While the coach appreciated the qualities of Pule and Mhango he felt that both were not delivering consistently to their potential, a factor that could be their undoing in the league run.
The league resumes on Tuesday with Cape Town City hosting Maritzburg in KwaMashu, Pirates versus SuperSport in Orlando, and Sundowns welcoming log leaders Baroka to Pretoria.