• Wits are genuine title contenders

    Bidvest Wits

    After claiming victories over Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, Bidvest Wits can now firmly be considered to be Absa Premiership title contenders, writes DEAN WORKMAN.

    The Clever Boys sit at the summit of the league standings, picking up nine points from nine so far. The Students are yet to taste defeat and have already taken the scalps of two of their title rivals in Soweto giants Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.

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    What has been so impressive about Wits so far this season is how well they have transitioned in the off-season to build an entirely new squad to allow the club to challenge for the crown they won in the 2016-17 campaign.

    Gavin Hunt’s men endured a difficult title defence last season. A run in the Caf Confederations Cup had an obvious impact on the side as they struggled to keep up with the pace in the league and fell into the relegation scrap.

    Hunt may have guided his team to safety as they finished 13th but it was clear that a mass overhaul was needed.

    Speaking at the beginning of the season, Hunt said, ‘But in all seriousness, after what happened last season, do you not think what we have done [signing 11 players] was necessary? We learned a hard lesson.

    ‘I remember when I had lunch a few years ago with Sir Alex Ferguson, he spoke about the need to refresh the team so that you don’t lose the hunger and desire.

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    ‘What we have done this year is reduce the size of the squad by three or four. Obviously, we can’t be judged on one game, but what we have done now, we should have done last season. We took too long to refresh the team and it was costly,’ he concluded.

    As a part of his refreshing process, Hunt cleared out a number of the ‘old-guard’ which included the likes of Moeneeb Josephs, Daine Klate, Nazeer Allie, James Keene, Vincent Pule, Ben Motshwari, Eleazar Rodgers, Bongani Khumalo and Kyle Peters.

    The Clever Boys then signed a number of replacements in Haashim Domingo, Bantu Mzwakali, Simon Murray, Terrence Dzvukamanja, Mxolisi Macupu, Vuyo Mere, Lehlohonolo Nonyane, Robyn Johannes, Brighton Mhlongo, Gift Motupa and Deon Hotto.

    After the new signings hit the ground running, it is evident what Hunt was trying to achieve and he seems to have successfully refreshed his squad with the type of quality which will allow them to challenge.

    Wits, as a result of last season’s lowly finish, will not play in any Caf competition and are also not in the MTN8, allowing Hunt the necessary time to rest his players as well as work with them in training.

    At the start of the season, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane singled out Wits as title contenders as their squad is ‘well-rested’ and ‘rejuvenated’.

    It seems that Jingles was on to something as the Clever Boys look set to stake a claim for the 2018-19 Absa Premiership title.

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    Photo:  Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

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