Gavin Hunt may not be too cut up if Wits are knocked out of the CAF Confederation Cup. Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi, BackpagePix
Bidvest Wits 0

Smouha 0

JOHANNESBURG - The Bidvest Wits graphics team responsible for posting the starting line-up on social media had several players in the wrong position.

Siboniso Gaxa, for instance, had his name and face higher up the pitch at right-wing instead of left-back. The attack-minded Elias Pelembe was handed the tough task of forming part of the Clever Boys’ back four, while midfield workhorse Ben Motshwari was thrown in at the deep end - up as Cuthbert Malajila’s strike partner.

Comical at first, but a further inspection of the rest of the team on the pitch against Egyptians Smouha in this first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup play-off suggested the home side were simply ticking the box.

Only four regulars missed out on getting a day off from coach Gavin Hunt.

The all-important fixture is back here on Tuesday night against Golden Arrows, an Absa Premiership match that will send Wits top of the standings if they win and give their title hopes a serious boost with only nine more games remaining.

Nevertheless, the Clever Boys remained the dominant side on Saturday against yet another Egyptian opposition, having been knocked out of the CAF Champions League - and relegated to the Confederation Cup - by Al Ahly, the eight-time champions, at this venue last month.

Then, there was urgency about Hunt’s men, the crowd spurring them on to upset the odds and book a place in the group stages of the premier continental tournament.

But after 90-minutes of missed chances, Al Ahly triumphed 1-0 on aggregate thanks to Ahmed Hegazy’s winner in the first leg at the National Stadium in Cairo a week earlier.

Just as their countrymen managed to avoid conceding in South Africa, Smouha, who are in fourth place in the Egyptian league and trail Al Ahly by 18 points, also had to rely heavily on goalkeeper Mohamed Gabal to ensure they have an advantage next week in the return leg in Alexandria.

Hunt won’t be too cut up about defeat as it means he has a fresh squad to compete for the championship. But a win here would have been a morale booster of some sort given how Wits were embarrassed by National First Division outfit Jomo Cosmos in the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup earlier in the week at the Tsakane Stadium.

But, instead, to borrow from Hunt’s own words about the type of football you can find in the Premier Soccer League, this was just mix-masala, and it wasn’t a tasty one.

Sunday Independent