JOHANNESBURG - Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt is still bewildered by the defending Absa Premiership champions’ poor start to the season, but has argued that the deteriorating standard of officiating in the league as well as injuries have been some of the contributing factors to the Clever Boys’ winless run of seven matches.
They visit another struggling side in AmaZulu on Wednesday night at the King Zwelithini Stadium hoping to end what is already the worst start of any title holders in the PSL era.
“We have got a few injuries again and we are trying to see who is fit again. That means we have our backs against the wall, and so do our opponents. Here we go again,” said Hunt.
“Every game has been a problem for us somewhere along the line. You can’t point your finger at what exactly has been wrong. It’s been the officiating, it’s been this and that. Then a red card - its unbelievable, never seen anything like it. Easy misses as well. What are you going to put your finger on? It’s hard to do that but that's football and you have to take it on the chin.”
The coach hasn’t been able to pick the same starting line-up in any of their seven matches in all competitions so far this season, and with right-back Nazeer Allie suspended following his sending off in the 1-1 draw with Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday night, Hunt is forced to change his team yet again. Elias Pelembe is also a doubt for the AmaZulu clash.
Another factor has been the absence of clean sheets in all seven games, with the coach adamant that a team can never win the championship without a watertight defence.
“But I can’t depend on the goalkeeper (Moeneeb Josephs) all the time,” said Hunt. “I think we have to protect him a little bit. We certainly have to play a few games where we are not conceding. That’s also the problem.”
Wits can certainly build on their performance away to Chiefs at the weekend, when striker Ahmed Gamal Amr scored a last-minute goal to help Wits draw the match and walk away with a valuable point.
“We were the better side throughout the game. Our goalkeeper never made a save in the first half and theirs (Man of the Match Itumeleng Khune) made a few good ones. The ball just didn’t go in. You can’t beat yourself up and say we played badly. A simple clean sheet would have helped.”
Asked whether AmaZulu, because of their own slump, would be easier to face, Hunt didn’t want to underestimate Cavin Johnson’s team.
“I think everybody knows that the game is not a 4-1 scoreline if you watched it,” he said of Usuthu’s drubbing by Golden Arrows, who had also beaten Wits 3-1 in their own backyard a few days earlier.
“It was not a true reflection of the game. Even when they beat us, it wasn’t a true reflection of the game, but the record will show that they beat us 3-1. So it won’t be easy for us and it’s going to be a fight.”