Home Sport CAF Confederation Cup: Hunt sees silver lining in poor run

CAF Confederation Cup: Hunt sees silver lining in poor run

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Hunt’s fairly young squad saw their chances of progression to the knockout stage go up in smoke following Monday’s 1-1 draw with Egypt’s Modern Future at the Peter Mokoba Stadium in Polokwane.

Bidets Wits head coach Gavin Hunt. File Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

Matshelane Mamabolo

ON THE face of it, SuperSport United’s CAF Confederation Cup campaign ending on the penultimate match day of the group stage would seem to suggest that Gavin Hunt’s team had a wretched run on the continent. And rightly so, because any team that earns just four points out of a possible 15 surely had it bad.

Yet, there is every reason for Matsatsantsa a Pitori to look back at their participation in Africa’s secondary knockout competition as somewhat of a success – at least with regards to the future.

Hunt’s fairly young squad saw their chances of progression to the knockout stage go up in smoke following Monday’s 1-1 draw with Egypt’s Modern Future at the Peter Mokoba Stadium in Polokwane. And even if they were to win at USM Alger next weekend, SuperSport will not be able to finish in the top two to book a space in the next round.

Still, given their lean, youthful squad, which was not helped by injuries and suspensions to the few senior and more experienced players, Hunt was understandably looking on the bright side – even before Monday’s clash with Future.

“The future certainly looks very, very bright for the club. Qualifying and playing in African competitions brings the young players in quicker. And the adversity that we go through (in travelling all over the continent) is good experience for the players – the young ones and some of the seniors who had never been in continental football. So, for the long standing of the club, this (playing continental football) is good.”

There were some glimpses of what Hunt was speaking about at a near empty Peter Mokba Stadium on Monday as SuperSport showed good character to come from behind and get a point against their Egyptian opponents.

Having enjoyed a promising start which saw them dominate possession, SuperSport got sucker-punched when Ali Zaazaa tapped home into an open net after goalkeeper Ricardo Goss experienced a rush of blood to the head.

The man who was in Bafana Bafana’s squad at the recent Africa Cup of Nations left his line to head away a ball on the left side of the field. But quick thinking by the Egyptians saw them swiftly throwing the ball back into play and Goss was caught backpedalling when Ahmed Atef swivelled past two markers to lay on a pass for Zaazaa to score his first goal in the competition.

Instead of dropping their heads, SuperSport made a fight of it and peppered Ganesh’s goal, Nigerian Etiosa Ighodaro coming closest on 42 minutes but directing his header wide following a stellar cross by Tendamudzimu Matodzi.

Hunt made a trio of changes after the break, one of which saw captain Tyson Hlatshwayo returning to action after an injury layoff and the veteran defender injected some fight into the team.

Suddenly SuperSport looked more positive going forward and five minutes into the second half the former South African skipper forced a good save out of the Future No 1 with a solid header from a Shuandre Campbell delivery.

Matodzi then headed wide on 54 minutes from an Aphiwe Baliti cross. He made amends for that miss later on, though, as he equalised with a good downward header following yet another splendid delivery by Baliti.

The goal injected the home side with more confidence and Ighodaro should have made it 2-1 with a brave overhead kick inside the box but succeeded only in directing the ball wide.

They looked much more sprightly and purposeful with their attacks but it all came to nothing and the visitors nearly made them pay on the counter four minutes from the end when Ghanam Mohamed smashed the ball against the crossbar.

They are not going to emulate the Class of 2017 by reaching the final, but Hunt and his men are sure to be all the better for this CAF Confederation Cup spirit, so long as the club management does not sell on the youngsters who have gained massive experience, as they have been doing in recent years.

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