Hunt: Time for Bidvest Wits to overhaul squad
JOHANNESBURG - Expect a more driven and determined Bidvest Wits in their remaining four Absa Premiership matches with coach Gavin Hunt issuing an ominous threat to the players who went from champions to chumps in only one season.
The Clever Boys have failed to build on winning the league for the first time in the club’s history in almost a century. Wits flirted with relegation at one point in this campaign to relinquish their title without much of a fight. But their Telkom Knockout triumph has made this season respectable and a top eight finish would make it even better.
They’ll have to fight for a top eight finish after they were booted out of that bracket by losses to Ajax Cape Town last week and Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.
“It has been a poor season for us,” Hunt said. “We needed an overhaul (of the squad), we didn’t do it. We’ll do it now. We need a positive response in the remaining matches because people are playing for their careers.”
Wits’ last four league matches are against Polokwane City, Orlando Pirates, AmaZulu and Platinum Stars. But the Clever Boys’ immediate task is a second leg CAF Confederation Cup play-offs clash with Enyimba in Nigeria on Wednesday. Hunt spoke about that match like a man who has given up having played to a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Bidvest Stadium.
“The trip to Nigeria doesn’t help us does it, because we don’t have a squad of players to go on a couple of fronts and then come back and play on Sunday,” Hunt said. “We go on Monday (today) and then come back from Nigeria on Friday.
"We don’t even know where we are going. It’s crazy. That’s what is in front of us. We had a great start in the league in the second half of the season. But we then ran out of legs and numbers in certain positions.
— Bidvest Wits (@BidvestWits) April 15, 2018
"We’ve had to change here and there and that hasn’t helped us. Africa hasn’t helped us because we don’t have the resources to go across all fronts. It is a problem.”
Wits look set to fail to reach the group stage of the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup for a third year in a row. That failure is due to the club’s negative approach to continental football.
Wits changed their attitude last year but they were just not good enough to beat Al-Ahly and weren’t keen on going further in the Confederation Cup after they were demoted to it by the loss to the Egyptian giants.
In contrast, Sundowns have taken continental football seriously which is why they qualified for the Champions League for the fifth year in a row with the win over Wits.
The Brazilians used the experience they gained from the Champions League to get past Cape Town City, Baroka FC and Wits in their last three matches to move a step closer to winning a record eighth league title in the Premier Soccer League-era. Hunt has tipped Sundowns to win the league in what is now officially a two-horse race between the Brazilians and Pirates.
“They have the quality and they have the back-up,” Hunt said. “They have the resources. They’ve got enough, more than enough. They are the best team this season. There’s no doubt about that.”