It’s full cir­cle for Gavin, Benni

Hunt pre­dicts bright fu­ture for pro­tege McCarthy af­ter their first coach­ing tie

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ROD­NEY REINERS

FOOT­BALL’S ca­pac­ity for whimsy and nos­tal­gia, and for elic­it­ing mo­ments of irony and won­der, was on full dis­play when Absa Pre­mier­ship cham­pi­ons Wits took on Cape Town City in a pre-sea­son train­ing friendly in Stellenbosch on Fri­day.

In 1995, shortly af­ter an in­jury-plagued Gavin Hunt was forced to give up a suc­cess­ful play­ing ca­reer with Hel­lenic and was coach­ing Seven Stars, he gave a pre­co­cious 17-yearold Hanover Park lad called Benni McCarthy a de­but in se­nior foot­ball. And there’s no need to elab­o­rate on what McCarthy went on to achieve in the sport…

On Fri­day, in one of those pe­cu­liar twists of fate so com­mon to foot­ball, newly-ap­pointed City coach McCarthy was op­pos­ing his men­tor Hunt, now the coach of PSL ti­tle-win­ning Wits.

Wits took the friendly 1-0, with a goal from Eleazar Rodgers – but the re­sult, of course, wasn’t all that im­por­tant. For both coaches, it was just an op­por­tu­nity to run the rule over what their play­ers had to of­fer, to test com­bi­na­tions, and to get a feel for the grass ahead of the new PSL sea­son.

“It just makes me feel old,” laughed Hunt. “When he (McCarthy) started play­ing, I was coach­ing. Now he’s fin­ished play­ing, and I’m still coach­ing… But I’m sure he will do well, and I cer­tainly wish him the best.”

Hunt has now won the PSL ti­tle on four oc­ca­sions (three with Su­per­Sport and last sea­son with Wits). A Capeto­nian, he loves bring­ing teams to the Mother City for a pre-sea­son train­ing camp.

“It’s all about team bond­ing at this stage,” said Hunt. “It’s about team­work, and try­ing out dif­fer­ent styles and pat­terns with the squad. I like the com­pet­i­tive­ness of the friendlies. There are a lot of teams here – and, for me, it’s the com­pet­i­tive­ness that is im­por­tant.”

Af­ter play­ing City on Fri­day, Wits faced Ajax Cape Town in Parow the fol­low­ing day. The Cape side won 2-1, cour­tesy of an own goal and one from striker Thomas Chideu, while Wits’ re­ply came from the boot of Vin­cent Pule.

For Ajax coach Stan­ley Menzo, the game al­lowed him to look at some of the tri­al­ists in his squad.

“It was nice to win against Wits, but it’s only pre-sea­son,” said the for­mer Ajax Am­s­ter­dam goal­keeper now in charge of the Cape side. “It was good to play the game… We saw some of the new play­ers, and will have to make some de­ci­sions soon about them be­cause we can­not keep them too long. We have to let them know if we are in­ter­ested or not.

Among the play­ers try­ing their luck at Ajax are Khule­gani Madondo, who has turned out for AmaZulu, Wits and Mar­itzburg United, and Nige­rian at­tack­ing mid­fielder Ejike Uzoenyi, who has been on the books of Mamelodi Sun­downs.

Menzo said he was im­pressed with Madondo and will al­low him to stay a while longer as he con­tin­ues to as­sess whether he wants the player or not.

As for new sign­ing Sed­wyn Ge­orge, the Ajax coach was happy with what he has seen from the striker who topped the scor­ing charts in the Na­tional First Divi­sion last sea­son.

The Ajax coach also, again, took the op­por­tu­nity to com­ment on the Ri­valdo Coet­zee sit­u­a­tion. The 20-year-old Bafana Bafana cen­tral de­fender has not re­turned to train­ing as he takes a stand in his dis­pute with the club.

“I’m very dis­ap­pointed in him,” said Menzo. “What he has done shows that he has no re­spect for me or his team­mates. If he has an is­sue with the club, keep it with the club, but don’t bring it to your team­mates. It’s not good, it’s petty, and it’s a pity.” BOY, YOU’VE GROWN UP: Gavin Hunt shares a word with Benni McCarthy dur­ing their teams’ – Bivest Wits and Cape Town City – pre-sea­son friendly in Stellenbosch. Hunt gave McCarthy his pro­fes­sional de­but for Seven Stars in 1995.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.