Wits’ shot at redemption has hit turbulence in recent weeks but with a bit of luck and a string of consistent outings they could still reach the promised land - Premiership glory. Photo: BackpagePix
Wits’ shot at redemption has hit turbulence in recent weeks but with a bit of luck and a string of consistent outings they could still reach the promised land - Premiership glory. Photo: BackpagePix

Wits always in the Hunt

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Mar 31, 2020

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Wits’ shot at redemption has hit turbulence in recent weeks but with a bit of luck and a string of consistent outings they could still reach the promised land - Premiership glory.

The Clever Boys haven’t been so smart in their pursuit of silverware this season, failing to capitalise on their games in hand as they’ve battled to close in on leaders Kaizer Chiefs, who have a 10-point lead and have played one game more.

With the league indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, surely that must give Wits enough time to thoroughly come up with a plan of how they’ll make the most of their remaining nine games in the league.

Their season so far

Having fallen behind in the title race in the last five matches last season, many would have thought the Clever Boys would know the importance of being consistent throughout this term.

But such has been their negligence that they are languishing in the doldrums of uncertainty, considering that even if they win all their remaining matches, and the rest of title chasers win theirs, that would still be worthless.

Wits’ advantage, though, comes with the fact that they still have back-to-back matches against Chiefs, while they’ll also play fourth-placed Orlando Pirates. Get maximum points from those matches and their title aspirations could be intact.

Wits may still be in the title race but it would be advisable for them to push as high up as they can, while the Nedbank Cup becomes their top priority. After all, winning the competition guarantees them a ticket to African football next season.

The coach

Gavin Hunt has been around long enough to know what he needs to do in order for his team to come out victorious.

Wits’ defensive trio Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhlebuyeza Mkhwanazi and Sifiso Hlanti have been a solid contingent for years. Such has been their cohesiveness that they have taken their fine form to the national team.

Cole Alexander and his partner Thabang Monare control the spine of the team, allowing Deon Hotto and Elias Pelembe to have freedom on the flanks.

Wits’ struggles have been up front, with no lethal No 9 as Eva Nga has battle to find his feet at the club.

What they’ve done right

Wits have been good travellers, bagging points away from home.

The arrival of defender Lorenzo Gordinho has done little to destabilise the defensive organisation as Wits have conceded only 17 goals this season - the second best defensive record in the league.

For those exploits, the defensive unit have been rewarded with Hlatshwayo, Hlanti and Mkhwanazi called up to the national team for the postponed Afcon qualifiers against Sao Tome and Principe, while goalkeeper Brandon Peterson got his first national team call-up.

What they’ve done wrong

A dark cloud has hung over Bidvest Stadium in the last two years, giving the opposition a sense of belief that they can visit the Braamfontein arena and leave with full points.

That dilemma has seen the Clever Boys lose matches they should have easily won, something that has seen their pursuit for silverware crumble at times.

Apart from losing matches at home, their biggest downfall has been their poor conversion rate.

Cameroon-born striker Nga has failed to hit the ground running in the PSL, while injuries to Gift Motupa and Molahlehi Khunyedi has cost the team dearly.

Key player

Hlatshwayo’s role as team captain is undisputed. The Bafana Bafana international has led with distinction, changing positions and popping up with important goals when his team need him most.

For his consistent contribution at the club level, Hlatswayo rose to the role of being the national team captain, while the big three in South African football - Chiefs, Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns - are said to be after his services.

So far, though, Wits have hung onto their man, insisting that his way out of the club would be via Europe. But with the winter transfer window approaching, there’s no telling how long the Clever Boys will be able to hold onto ‘Tyson’.

Remaining matches

Away: v Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Maritzburg United, Bloemfontein Celtic, Black Leopards

Home: v AmaZulu, Golden Arrows, Kaizer Chiefs, Polokwane City

Last five games: WDLDW

@mihlalibaleka


The Star

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