Defence at the centre of Hunt's problems before City cup showdown

20 February 2024 - 09:14
By Sithembiso Dindi
SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt during the Nedbank Cup press conference at PSL headquarters on February 19 2024.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt during the Nedbank Cup press conference at PSL headquarters on February 19 2024.

SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt has been frustrated by injuries and suspensions that have bedevilled a key area of his defence before the side’s Nedbank Cup match against Cape Town City.   

SuperSport host the tough Citizens in a battle for a spot in the next round at Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Tuesday (7pm).   

Hunt believes SuperSport are going into the match handicapped as he has only one tried and tested centreback available in Siyanda Xulu, while others are either suspended or injured.

SuperSport suffered a huge blow at central defender when recently signed Keegan Allan was red-carded in their DStv Premiership 1-1 draw against Stellenbosch FC at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Friday. Both teams return from a seven-week break for the Africa Cup of Nations.   

He joins another young, amazingly talented central defender, Ime Okon, on the suspension list while Thulani Hlatshwayo is recovering from injury.   

Bilal Baloyi, a player promoted from United's DStv Diski Challenge reserve team at the start of the season, played with Allan on Friday and is the other  centreback available. The 20-year-old has played only 275 minutes in the Premiership.   

“We’ve run out of the centrebacks, with all of them injured or suspended,” Hunt said.   

“So that area of the field has been tough for us and it’s no coincidence we are third [in the league] when we should be six or eight points clear of second place.   

“It’s because we struggled in that department. We can’t keep bodies on the field in that area. It has been a major concern.”  

City and SuperSport are in second and third place in the Premiership, both on 30 points.   

Hunt said the department that has only had Xulu and Hlatshwayo as experienced campaigners has been their Achilles heel.

He expects a tough game from coach Eric Tinkler's excellently-drilled City. However, SuperSport may take courage from that they’ve dominated this fixture recently.   

Hunt’s men have won four of the past five meetings while the other ended in a goalless draw.    

“It’s not an easy [cup] draw. Both teams are competitive and have the same points in the league. 

“There have been tough draws, but for both of us it’s a tough draw.”   

SuperSport will be eager to do well in the Nedbank Cup this season after they were shockingly knocked out by ABC Motsepe League combination Dondol Stars in the last 32 campaign.