‘I like him. Left-footed. Big strong boy. I think he’ll do OK‚’ says Hunt on Damjanovic

15 July 2017 - 12:19 By Marc Strydom
Gavin Hunt (head coach) of Bidvest Wits.
Gavin Hunt (head coach) of Bidvest Wits.
Image: Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images

If you thought Slavko Damjanovic’s name was a mouthful‚ try some of his previous clubs.

Damjanovic‚ the defender who Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt rates highly‚ has joined the league champions on a free transfer‚ will be an unknown quantity in the PSL in 2017-18.

The centreback or left-back joins Wits from FK Sutjeska Nikšić‚ the team from his home city of Nikšić in his native Montenegro‚ the tiny Balkan country sandwiched between Bosnia-Herzegovina‚ Serbia and Albania.

Nikšić – twice league champions in Montenegro since independence from the former Yugoslavia in 2006 – were Damkanovic’s first top-flight club.

He move to FK Spartak Subotica and FK Bačka 1901 in Serbia‚ then had spent a season with Békéscsaba 1912 Előre in Hungary’s top-flight in 2015-16‚ before a return to Nikšić‚ for a fairly varied career already for a 24-year-old.

Hunt believes the defender can bring value to a Wits defence that already contains last year’s best centre-back partnership in Thulani Hlatshwayo and Buhle Mkhwanazi‚ left-back Sifiso Hlanti and right-backs Nazeer Allie and Reeve Frosler.

“I like him. Left-footed. Big strong boy. I think he’ll do OK‚” Hunt said.

“Obviously from Europe to the PSL‚ people move here. In Europe they don’t move too much. So the pace of the game is always the biggest concern.

“But I think passing-wise‚ heading-wise‚ strength-wise‚ tactical‚ and so on‚ he’s got it. But the proof is in the play – it’s not about now.

“And he’s young. He’s the right age – 24. So he’s not like a 30 or a 31year-old‚ trying to come here and earn a pension.

“I like him. But the proof will be‚ can he do it in a game?”

As is their modus operandi‚ Wits have been active in the free transfer market. And as usual the Clever Boys have landed some quality players in that manner.

The biggest of them is Steven Pienaar‚ returning after 16 years in Europe and having played 16 games for Sunderland last season.

Daylon Claasen has joined having ended his contract at Bundesliga II’s TSV 1860 Munich.

Highly-rated left-back Bokang Tlhone was signed on a pre-contract in January from Free State Stars.