Usual suspects to challenge for the PSL title‚ says Gavin Hunt

18 August 2017 - 14:49 By Marc Strydom
Coach Gavin Hunt of Wits during the Bidvest Wits media open day at Bidvest Stadium on August 16, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Coach Gavin Hunt of Wits during the Bidvest Wits media open day at Bidvest Stadium on August 16, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

The usual suspects will challenge for the Absa Premiership title in 2017-18 season‚ Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt believes‚ with no big surprises expected.

The PSL kicks off on Friday night with Hunt suspended and in the stands when his defending champions Wits meet last season’s third-placed finishers Cape Town City at Bidvest Stadium (8pm).

Hunt does not expect any surprise challengers to last season’s top five teams – Wits‚ Mamelodi Sundowns‚ City‚ Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United‚ in that order.

“I think one or two have come more into the equation now from last season‚” the coach said this week.

“But I still think it will be the same candidates. I can’t see anybody out of that five or six coming like a Leicester City‚ or something like that.

“But I think out of the five or six from last year‚ certainly they will all be close again. Definitely.”

Hunt might‚ though‚ have mentioned Orlando Pirates.

The Buccaneers prefer to start a season as contenders rather than dark horses. With their 11th-placed finish in 2016-17‚ and new coaching staff of Milutin Serdojevic and Rhulani Mokwena‚ Pirates should certainly add a sixth component to the next nine months’ title race.

Champions Wits‚ as they already saw in their penalties MTN8 quarterfinal win against Lamontville Golden Arrows at Bidvest Stadium on Friday‚ can expect teams to gun for them.

“I don’t know about tougher‚” Hunt said of his team’s prospects in 2017-18.

“It certainly won’t be easy‚ if you look at Friday’s game.

“And there are certain teams who will improve from last season. But I think it will generally be those five or six.

“But on a given day anybody beats anybody. That’s what is good about the South African league.

“I mean‚ with three games to go we got smashed by Free State Stars last season. And that’s what happens. And they almost got relegated.

“That’s how it works. On a given day anybody will beat anybody in SA football.”

Hunt was the recipient of a sending off in Wits' last match in the MTN8 quarterfinal against Arrows‚ and assistant-coach Paul Johnstone will be on the Clever Boys’ bench against Benni McCarthy’s City.

Hunt believes his team are too well-drilled a side for that to be a serious setback.

“The structure will be put in place. If anything needs to be done it will‚” Hunt said.

“You don’t coach from the bench anyway – they (the players) don’t listen anyway‚” Hunt quipped.

Weekend’s PSL fixtures:

Friday:

Bidvest Wits v Cape Town City (Bidvest Stadium‚ 8pm)

Saturday:

SuperSport United v Mamelodi Sundowns (Lucas Moripe Stadium‚ 3pm)

Polokwane City v Baroka FC (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 3pm)

AmaZulu v Free State Stars (King Zwelithini Stadium‚ 3pm)

Orlando Pirates v Chippa United (Orlando Stadium‚ 6pm)

Ajax Cape Town v Lamontville Golden Arrows (Cape Town Stadium‚ 8.15pm)

Sunday:

Bloemfontein Celtic v Kaizer Chiefs (Free State Stadium‚ 3pm)

Platinum Stars v Maritzburg United (Royal Bafokeng Stadium‚ 3pm)

- TimesLIVE

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