Hunt left pulling his hair in frustration as Wits continue to struggle

14 September 2017 - 13:23 By Marc Strydom
Bidvest Wits head coach Gavin Hunt reacts during the Absa Premiership match against Golden Arrows at Bidvest Stadium on September 13, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Bidvest Wits head coach Gavin Hunt reacts during the Absa Premiership match against Golden Arrows at Bidvest Stadium on September 13, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Bidvest Wits are at their wits’ end.

Apart from the neat‚ if somewhat obvious‚ play on words‚ that brief statement must capture up to some extent the challenges that a poor start to the season have presented for league champions Wits.

Six games played in 2017-18‚ and just one of them won‚ but not even from open play.

And the team Wits beat in a season-opener where Hunt’s team fought back from 2-0 down in both normal time and the penalty shootout of their MTN8 quarterfinal – Lamontville Golden Arrows – returned to Bidvest Stadium on Wednesday night and blew the Clever Boys off the pitch 3-1.

Again‚ Wits had their chances.

“It’s an understatement‚ isn’t it?” Hunt shrugged‚ in his characteristic manner of viewing a defeat from a subjective viewpoint.

Arrows had been good.

Their compact organisation and razor-sharp counterattack had worn the champions down.

Asked what it will take for Wits to start winning again‚ Hunt could only identify the porousness at the back that has seen his team concede 11 goals in six games.

“You’ve got to keep clean sheets.

"If you don’t keep clean sheets you’ve got no chance.

“And every game we’ve played has been like tonight where we must have had five 100 percent chances.

“Having said that‚ you’ve got to keep clean sheets.”

Key injuries have plagued Wits’ start to the season - Darren Keet’s solid absence at goalkeeper‚ with Moeneeb Josephs lacking confidence; Buhle Mkhwanazi from the central defence.

Asked what changes he can make‚ Hunt replied: “I can’t make any changes. This is all we’ve got – there’s no-one else.”

Hunt did try to make changes on Wednesday night. With an unconvincing central defence having been his side’s biggest confidence shaker‚ he switched to a 3-5-2 system.

Phumlani Ntshangase came into the central defence alongside Thulani Hlatshwayo and Slavko Damjanovic. Reeve Frosler and Bokang Thlone were the wingbacks.

But‚ frustratingly for Hunt‚ the adjustment only seemed to play into Arrows’ hands.

“When we saw the team sheet we immediately knew they were going to play Ntshangase at the back because Ben Motswari and Xola Mlambo were there (in midfield)‚” Arrows coach Clinton Larsen said.

“And we planned to play in the spaces behind their wingbacks. And it worked out perfectly. Siphelele Magubane on the left‚ Wayde Jooste on the right.

“And then I wasn’t surprised‚ and I said to my players at half time‚ that Wits were going to change to a back four after the break because we were exposing them in those wide areas.

“And they did change it. And I think they were a lot more solid in the second half.

“But‚ ja‚ I just think that our players executed their approach very well tonight.”

Wits’ tough fixtures continue when they meet Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

Arrows have a Durban derby against AmaZulu at Princess Magogo Stadium on Sunday.

- TimesLIVE

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