JOHANNESBURG – There are good coaches, and then there are knowledgeable and experienced mentors such as Kaizer Chiefs’ Gavin Hunt who has wasted little time in helping his new charges play to their strengths.
The appointment of Hunt as Kaizer Chiefs’ new coach last month was wildly celebrated by the club’s faithful who believed that the 56-year-old is equipped with the necessary wealth of knowledge to take over the reins at the club.
But what ensured that Hunt cut the mustard and became the suitable candidate to coach a club such as Chiefs – which boasts an incredible history in South African football – is that the success he amassed at SuperSport United and Wits have come with limited resources.
He won four league titles and three domestic Cups between his stints at SuperSport and Wits. And on top of adding to that lofty billing at Chiefs was how he was going to handle the egos of high-profiled superstars at the club.
But it appears that so far, Hunt has his new charges eating out of the palm of his hand – considering how certain individuals stepped up to the plate in his first game in charge; the 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Maritzburg United in the MTN8 quarter-finals on Sunday.
Yagan Sasman, a player who came under a lot of criticism last season was the unlikely hero for Amakhosi following his second-half brace.
But it shouldn’t be Sasman’s improved defensive abilities and scoring prowess that should mainly get praised under Hunt. Instead, it should be the man behind Sasman’s two assists who should excite Hunt and his backroom staff, amid the transfer ban hanging over the club.
After 18 domestic matches last season, all that Khama Billiat could deliver for his exploits were two contributions – one goal and one assist. But under Hunt, the Zimbabwean talisman has recorded two assists in the space of three minutes.
Sure, it’s still early days to consider Billiat as back to his best. But in Hunt, he will be pleased to know that he has someone who believes that he can return to his peak as long as he shows hunger and determination to deliver week in and week out.
“Yes he’s older but he should be more experienced now. He’s a bit wiser. I think the most important thing we have got to do is get him playing to his strengths,” Hunt said last week.
“I don’t want to know what’s gone on here before. It’s got nothing to do with me. I just want to see what’s in front of me and hopefully, we can get him. He’s certainly a double-figures goal scorer in the league and that’s got to be the first aim.”
Hunt, however, appears to be hellbent on making sure that his defensive unit is as strong as his striking contingent – having planned to convert experienced right-back Ramahlwe Mphahlele into a central defender this season.
“I’ve had a chat with him. I think that’s where he’s going to play more. I think he’s at an age where going to get up the side a little bit more. He’s more experienced. And really at this point, we don’t have a lot there,” Hunt said after Mphahlele’s outing at centre back on Sunday.