JOHANNESBURG – So 2017 ends with Bidvest Wits, the reigning Absa Premiership champions, bottom of the log after a 1-0 defeat to Platinum Stars on Saturday night.
This comes several months after they rewrote the history books by winning the club’s first ever league title in nearly a century of existence.
Of course there is still time to redeem the situation. The league is only at the halfway mark, meaning there is plenty of football to be played.
But the champions will need divine intervention to claw their way up the table, which should be their focus now following yet another painful defeat in front of their home crowd – their seventh loss of the campaign, the most in the league right now.
The title is out of sight, there is no need for permutations and calculators. It was the same line-up. The same group of players, and the same coach.
But not much was different in their 14th game of the season as they allowed visitors Platinum Stars an early goal here to unsettle their game plan.
Robert Ng’ambi connected well with a cross from Sibusiso Msomi, a header that evaded goalkeeper Darren Keet.
Gavin Hunt, the beleaguered coach whose job appears to be more secure than his counterparts elsewhere and above him on the table, paced up and down the dug-out barking instructions, but there were no positives.
Wits can’t score. On paper, they have their title-winning back four available again after months of chopping and changing because of injuries.
But a clean sheet should be backed up by a clinical attack, which is what they had last season en route to clinching the championship.
The football here was consistent with what it’s been since August when the campaign started – poor and desperate. And it was expected especially for this match, given the fixture was between two bottom-of-the-league sides.
Stars pulled away by four points thanks to the victory, and they will want to build from that when they return from the Christmas break early next month.
The quality is clearly there – goalkeeper Keet, captain Thulani Hlatshwayo (also Bafana skipper), his central defence partner Buhle Mkhwanazi, evergreen Daine Klate, Thabang Monare and World Cup-bound Egyptian striker Amr Gamal, but nothing seems to be going right.
If there won’t be any changes to the technical team, then the Clever Boys have to brace themselves for a relegation dogfight as of January.