JOHANNESBURG – The perfect example of how the mighty have fallen and the lowly have risen is Gavin Hunt’s reaction to Bidvest Wits’ 1-0 win over Baroka FC.
The Coach of the Year, who leads the reigning Absa Premiership champions, gushed over the Clever Boys victory against a team which retained their status through the playoffs after spending most of last season languishing at the bottom.
Baroka bounced back from that disappointment to be the early pacesetters. They remain at the summit after suffering their first loss, while Wits sit at the bottom half of the log.
The three points they got in Polokwane moved them up to 14th place. But that’s just for show as the 2017 CAF Confederation Cup finalists, SuperSport United, are just one game behind the Clever Boys in 15th place with four games in hand.
“These are valuable (three points), especially if you look at where we are and the start we’ve had,” Hunt said.
“I thought we were well worth three points. We had so many opportunities. But we have been playing like this all season and we’ve been losing, so you tell me...
"They are a good side. (Coach Kgoloko) Thobejane has done a good job here. They have a lot of power and pace. They aren’t at the top of the league for nothing. It’s been a disappointing season (for us), but we have played only eight games, there’s a long way to go.”
The Clever Boys’ poor start to their title defence is down to a number of factors, from the club struggling to deal with the tag of champions to the chopping and changing of the team that took them to glory last season and injuries to key players.
Hunt welcomed back captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and Elias Pelembe for the win over Bakgaga after they were sidelined due to injuries.
“It’s easier to defend it than to try and win it,” Hunt said. “But we are not doing a very good job at the moment. We aren’t even thinking about winning the league (at this stage).
“We are just trying to get some points, get some wins and move up the table. We’re third from bottom. We need to get ourselves up the league, get a lot more confidence in the club and get more players back from injury.
"We have the Champions League that we will also play next year. We are looking forward to that.
“But to win the league, generally, the second time I won it, it was easier. It’s hard now. You have Baroka, Cape Town City and Golden Arrows at the top. You’d never think that would happen.”
Hunt will briefly put their title defence on hold this week to focus on how he can outsmart Wits’ hoodoo team, Free State Stars, who visit the Clever Boys on Saturday in the last 16 of the Telkom Knockout.