Gavin Hunt is confident his Bidvest Wits side can overturn their deficit against Saint-Louisienne in the African Champions League
Posted: 17 February 2017 Time: 20:37
Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt is adamant his side will get past the preliminary round hurdle posed by Reunion Island champions Saint-Louisienne and set up a massive African Champions League first round clash with Egyptian powerhouse Al Ahly.
Wits play the decisive second leg at their Bidvest Stadium home on Saturday evening (kick-off 18h00), aware that they have to overturn the 1-2 defeat that they suffered last Saturday at the Stade Thoephile Hoarau on the Indian Ocean island.
“We can beat this team on Saturday, I know that,” declares Hunt.
Wits conceded a late penalty converted by 41-year-old forward Willy Visnelda after Gabadinho Mhango had opened the scoring with a classic goal which was then cancelled out by Andy Sophie.
Saint Louisienne are no walkover ‘fishermen’ having once upset Mamelodi Sundowns back in 1999 in the same competition with a 5-3 aggregate score and so Hunt will likely have to put out a stronger side than he has done on the continent in recent years.
“People always criticise me but nobody criticises SuperSport. Did you see the team that they put out [in the CAF Confederation Cup against Elgeco Plus of Madagascar]?
“Our team we put out, we had Moeneeb [Josephs] in goals, Gaxa [Siboniso] at fullback, Bongani Khumalo, Buhle [Mkhwanazi], Hlanti [Sifiso], Xola [Mlambo], Ben Motshwari, Cuthbert Malajila, [Gabadinho] Mhango and Sifiso Myeni.
“So that was the team, not a bad team. So people criticise me for playing… but those are players in my squad and we need to play. We were a bit unfortunate but will give it a go and the carrot for us is to play in the next round in Egypt. That is a big carrot for us,” says Hunt in anticipation of meeting the eight-time African champions.
However, for now he needs to get past the Indian Ocean islanders by calling on the depth and experience that he has.
“The team we played against. What we get in Africa, the guys know. The physicality compared to South Africa and the referees are much more lenient and those type of things, so it takes some experience for us and a lot of the players.
“Most of our players have played in Africa so we are OK with it but our record is not great and we know that. I mean, last year we were knocked out [early] and the year before.
“But we are a club that is never the size of Orlando Pirates. We cannot compete on the same level as Orlando Pirates or Mamelodi Sundowns. We have never won the league and so we need to box clever.
“I can’t change my team as much as some teams can and that is why I admire clubs like Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns in what they have done and achieved. It is fantastic, phenomenal.
“We are a small little club and we do our thing. We are certainly going to be more competitive than we have been over the last four years, we have been very competitive on the local scene.
“We have won a trophy, been to a cup final that we lost, we get to sell players, we are moving players and now we are going to Africa not to throw it away. We are going there with our squad of players and we use players as best as we can like we did on Saturday.
“Certainly we are not going in with a change of mentality. The biggest thing in Africa is attitude and mentality. You’ve got to be strong,” he explains.