Coach ad­mits PSL champs have sim­ply not been good enough

Saturday Star - - SPORT - MAZOLA MOLEFE

WHEN a Pre­mier Soccer League coach is feel­ing the heat, there are ob­vi­ous trig­ger words to his plight.

Pres­sure is the most com­mon one, but Bid­vest Wits mentor Gavin Hunt has hardly used any of them so far this sea­son.

Even as the Absa Premier­ship de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons slumped to their fifth de­feat of the cam­paign af­ter nine matches on We d n e s d ay ni g ht , t he three-time ti­tle win­ner was vis­i­bly ir ri­tated with yet another poor re­sult, but he’s hardly looked a man des­per­ately hold­ing on to his job.

“South African foot­ball is crazy,” Hunt said this week as he pre­pares to take on log lead­ers Baroka FC in a Telkom Knock­out q u a r t e r- f i n a l tonight.

“Every week it (the call for coaches to get the sack) changes. But for me it’s about fo­cus­ing on what I do, how I pre­pare the team on the train­ing g round and what’s avail­able. You have to look at this holistically, from top to bot­tom. The prob­lem is ex­pec­ta­tions have been raised here be­cause we won the league and cup double last sea­son. We are mo­ti­vated, of course, but I don’t want to be called a mo­ti­va­tor. That means I am not a good coach. We are get­ting paid here and play­ing for our lives.”

Hunt has re­ceived a vote of con­fi­dence from man­age­ment, be­ing la­belled as a record-breaker for end­ing a 96year ti­tle drought at the old­est club in the coun­try.

For his col­leagues, any state­ment from the hi­er­ar­chy about job se­cu­rity is of­ten seen as the dreaded vote of con­fi­dence, which of­ten means the coach is on his way out.

But it is far from be­ing the case at Wits, and you get that sense when Hunt, ex­tremely moody af­ter de­feat and in­cred­i­bly pleasant when you catch him at the club’s train­ing grounds, speaks.

“I am dis­ap­pointed,” he said when asked about the in­con­sis­tent re­sults which have led to the Clever Boys sur­ren­der­ing their MTN8 ti­tle and cur­rently sec­ond from bot­tom of the league ta­ble.

“But foot­ball is not about get­ting mad and dis­ap­pointed, just get even. There is no need for me to throw my toys out the cot. I just need to make sure I put it right. The play­ers have got to un­der­stand that they’ve got to be bet­ter. “I think we’ve got to go back to ba­sics pretty much in every po­si­tion. Last year I thought we were the best team with­out the ball. This year we are not very good with­out it, typ­i­cally. If you want to do any­thing, you need to be good with­out the ball.”

Hunt also has in­juries to key play­ers, but he hardly used that as an ex­cuse, ad­mit­ting that Wits sim­ply haven’t been good enough.

“Be­cause of the in­juries we couldn’t in­te­grate the new play­ers in prop­erly, so we had a prob­lem from the start. But the thing is we’ve just been a yard off the pace,” he ex­plained.

“The dif­fer­ence is a yard or two. The left-back is giv­ing the right-winger five yards in­stead of three. Does that make sense? He does that and the cen­tre-half also does the same, and the next minute the op­po­si­tion is hav­ing a shot at goal, like what hap­pened against Chippa United (2-0 home loss). Our cen­tre-for­ward lost the ball on the half­way line and... the cen­tre-back didn’t go tight where he should have, and the boy (Sa­muel Julies) turned and, goal.”

Hunt is sure to tinker with his line-up for tonight’s cup clash at Bid­vest Sta­dium and al­though the topic around what has gone wrong has prob­a­bly come up in con­ver­sa­tions with his bosses, there seems to be no sug­ges­tion he is va­cat­ing the post any time soon.


Thabo Qalinge of Or­lando Pi­rates is ea­ger to win the Telkom Knock­out ti­tle to give the club’s sup­port­ers, ‘The Ghost’, some­thing to cheer about.


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