JOHANNESBURG – Absa Premiership defending champions Wits have played nearly a quarter of the 2017-18 season, and it’s advisable that you not put any money on them retaining the championship if you fancy a wager now and again.
Much like they have been doing so far in this campaign, coach Gavin Hunt’s men huffed and puffed against visitors Chippa United on Wednesday in losing 2-0 at home.
The best chance of the first half for Chippa fell to defender James Okwuosa, but he couldn’t shock the home side into conceding so early on when his attempt came off the upright.
Wits were not so lucky in the 77th minute when a poor clearance by striker Amr Gamal fell on to the path of Paseka Mako, who took a few defenders to the cleaners before setting up Samuel Julies to take the glory.
The nimble-footed midfielder was registering a second goal in as many games, having helped Chippa eliminate Mamelodi Sundowns from the opening round of the Telkom Knockout cup on Sunday in East London.
While the goal against the Brazilians was squeezed in from an awkward angle, the one here on Wednesday night was impressive and came moments after he’d squandered a clear-cut chance inside the box that could have been the opener.
With that goal, Chippa would go on to claim their third successive victory – all against side that were undoubtedly far superior than them last season in Cape Town City, Sundowns and reigning champions Wits.
But they were not done just yet. Julies was on the scene again with his precious left foot, curling another ball past hapless goalkeeper Darren Keet to score his and Chippa’s second of the night.
Even the Wits brass band simply had to appreciate.
They might get in trouble with their employers for that, having come alive when Julies bent it like Beckham.
They usually say it’s back to the drawing board when results go pear-shaped, but for the Clever Boys, their drawing board is full.
After nine league matches, the title holders remain rooted in the lower half of the table, just a point ahead of bottom-of-the-log side Platinum Stars.
Yes, they have been that bad.
Wits looked to have turned it around more than a week ago with back-to-back wins over log leaders Baroka FC (1-0) in the league and hoodoo team Free State Stars in the Telkom Knockout (4-2 in extra time).
But they were reminded here just how long the season is going to be for them. Although they still have 21 league games to play in the coming weeks and months, it’s not overreaching to suggest they may already be out of the title race, having now lost five of their nine matches so far.
Chippa, on the other hand, moved further up the top eight on the log table, and are now unbeaten in eight of their matches since coach Teboho Moloi has been in charge.