Home Sport Hard lessons from 2017 will fuel Clever Boys’ campaign

Hard lessons from 2017 will fuel Clever Boys’ campaign


Wits might make minor changes when they face Amakhosi.

Gavin Hunt coach of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership match between Bidvest Wits and AmaZulu 28 April 2018 at Bidvest Stadium. Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

BIDVEST Wits coach Gavin Hunt insists that signing 11 new players this season was necessary to avoid what befell the Clever Boys in the previous campaign as the reigning Absa Premiership champions.

He’s been under the microscope recently with player movements at Sturrock Park – Daine Klate, Ben Motshwari, Vincent Pule and James Keene among key departures as Wits responded to their 13th place finish.

“We didn’t buy anyone except Simon (Murray, from Hibernian FC in Scotland),” Hunt, speaking ahead of tonight’s league fixture at Kaizer Chiefs, said jokingly.

“But in all seriousness, after what happened last season do you not think what we have done was necessary? We learnt a hard lesson. I remember when I had lunch a few years ago with Sir Alex Ferguson (former Manchester United manager) he spoke about the need to refresh the team so that you don’t lose the hunger and desire.”

Hunt (pictured) maintained that the Clever Boys surrendering the Premier League title was down to a loss of appetite to win. So he reacted by bringing in Robyn Johannes, Vuyo Mere, Bantu Mzwakali, Mxolisi Macuphu, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Deon Hotto and Gift Motupa as headline signings.

Nearly all of them were handed their debuts at the weekend in the club’s emphatic 3-0 victory over bogey side Free State Stars.

“What we have done this year is reduce the size of the squad by three or four. Obviously we can’t be judged on one game, but what we have done now we should have done last season. We took too long to refresh the team and it was costly,” Hunt explained.

He exercised caution in talking up their chances in their next fixture at FNB Stadium against Chiefs, who have not been as busy in the transfer market, but do have a new coach in Italian Giovanni Solinas, who began his tenure at the weekend with a satisfactory 1-1 draw away to league title holders Mamelodi Sundowns.

“I don’t think they will be vulnerable at all. They have (Khama) Billiat who is very dangerous when play breaks and there’s a turnover of possession. I don’t believe in this thing that there is a right time for this and that. They will compete. They are the biggest team in South Africa,” the Wits coach warned.        

“And they have players who have won trophies before and have all that experience to help them do well. I also think Solinas has got better quality now at Chiefs than during his time at Free State Stars, where he didn’t do too badly with, say, limited resources. For us victory was more important than how we played on Saturday night. We are missing two key players in Granwald Scott and Daylon Claasen to long-term injuries, that’s why we had Alexander Cole and Thabang Monare in midfield. But everyone has got to work hard.”

Given that Hunt is a horses for courses type of coach – and he stressed that again in this interview – Wits might make minor changes when they face Amakhosi.

“The way we play always depends on the opposition, aerial threat and all those type of things. We can’t say we will play the rest of the season the way we did against Stars, it depends on what the game demands,” he explained.