Wits won't wuss out - Times LIVE
Fri Apr 28 02:33:35 SAST 2017

Wits won't wuss out

Marc Strydom | 2017-01-12 07:41:31.0
ON THE MONEY: Sibusiso Vilakazi was bought by Mamelodi Sundowns from Wits last season for a record fee. File photo
Image by: Supplied

With an improved squad this season Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt has said he can manage continental competition better and put out stronger teams, without committing completely to "going for it" in the CAF Champions League.

Wits raised eyebrows with their weak exits from the CAF Confederation Cup in the past two years, when they fielded under-strength teams.

Two seasons ago they lost on penalties against Swazi side Royal Leopards, blowing a 3-0 first leg lead in the opening round.

Last season Wits went a round further but capitulated 3-0 at home to Tanzanian club Azam, eventually losing 7-3 on aggregate.

This is in stark contrast to Mamelodi Sundowns last year becoming the first South African club to win the CAF Champions League since 1995.

Hunt said in the past two seasons Wits' squad lacked depth and they had to prioritise domestic ambitions.

"We never had the players. We don't buy players - we work in a free loan market," Hunt said.

"Sundowns' front four who played against us in the [MTN8] final was worth over R50-million. My front four who played in that cup final was worth nothing - we got them all for free.

"Last year Sundowns bought our player (Sibusiso Vilakazi) for a record fee. I can't buy Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly.

"Sundowns can afford to do that. And they should be doing that. The three big clubs in South Africa should be able to play across all fronts.

"We've got to concentrate on one game at a time, and see where best to put our emphasis.

"And last year for us the best place was to try to challenge more in the league."

There is a month to go to Wits' Champions League opener against SS Saint Louisienne of Reunion, and Hunt maintains that with a stronger squad this season Wits will be competitive domestically and continentally.

"We're going to have to see what the best situation is for us at that time.

"But there's no doubt our squad is much stronger this year to compete across more fronts," the coach said.

"And there are fewer rounds. [In the Confed] we had to play eight games to get into a group, now it's four [in the Champions League]. I can manage it better. The one area where I can't is in our defence because we don't really have enough cover there.

"But in midfield, wide, the strikers, we've got enough to play on a couple of fronts. So yes, this year definitely.

"I wouldn't say: 'Go for it'. But we'll put out a stronger team.

"But now to say that we must put all our eggs in one basket, like Sundowns did - well, I don't think we can do that. Because we don't have the same squad."


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