JOHANNESBURG – Moeneeb Josephs’ pep talk, or TV rant in a post-match interview on Sunday as some have called it, didn’t quite do the trick then.
Bidvest Wits, the reigning Absa Premiership champions, slumped to a third successive defeat at home in all domestic competitions on Wednesday night as Golden Arrows triumphed 3-1 away from home, giving credibility to suggestions that there might be a slight crisis.
Following the loss against Cape Town City here in the second leg of the MTN8 semi-finals at the weekend, goalkeeper Josephs told a television interviewer that there was a lack of “hunger and desire” from some of the players in what was then a fifth match without a win in open play for the Clever Boys.
As expected, the interview went viral, and there is no doubt his teammates would have been aware of its existence.
You would have to be living in a cage not to have had access to that video footage while it was doing the rounds on social media.
In some matches, coach Gavin Hunt’s men have played with heart, but there was clearly something missing from their first defeat on the opening day of the Premiership season, a narrow 1-0 loss to a Cape Town City side that went on to thump them two more times to knock them out of the MTN8, a trophy they were desperate to defend.
Perhaps as proof that he shared the same sentiments of his goalkeeper, who is the oldest member of the squad at 37, Hunt made six changes coming into this fixture against Golden Arrows.
The big guns – if you want to call them that – had all been left out. Sifiso Hlanti, Steven Pienaar, Granwald Scott and Elias Pelembe were all left out.
Add youngster Kobamelo Kodisang and Vincent Pule to that list.
Hlanti, Pelembe and Daine Klate, who come off the bench on Sunday, were not even in the match-day squad.
Hunt wanted a reaction, but he didn’t get it.
The champions went a goal down in the 33rd minute when Arrows left back Siphelele Magubane blazed past Phumlani Ntshangase – one of the beneficiaries of the wholesale changes by the coach – to set up striker Lerato Lamola to tap-in on the far post as the visitors took the lead.
Panic stations. The mood turned sour, but Wits picked themselves up when Amr Gamal scored his first goal for the club since arriving on loan from Egyptian giants Al Ahly during the recent transfer window.
He was on the score-sheet on Sunday, but it was a poor attempt at defending, his header beating his own keeper Josephs.
Gamal was definitely low on confidence, although his overall play was encouraging as he looks to find his feet in a foreign league, playing for a struggling side at the moment.
Looking for yet another reaction at halftime, Hunt made two substitutions, bringing on Nazeer Allie and Kodisang for Reeve Frosler as well as Xola Mlambo.
A bad call in hindsight, as Kodisang lost possession not long after the restart, sending Zolani Nkombelo through to put Arrows ahead.
That was game over, and even more so when Nduduzo Sibiya chipped the ball over Josephs with the last kick of the ball to make it 3-1.