Bidvest Wits in defensive crisis ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns clash
Posted: 13 April 2018 Time: 16:00
Bidvest Wits are in a mini-crisis as far as their defense is concerned, ahead of this weekend's Absa Premiership meeting with Mamelodi Sundowns.
The Clever Boys face a stiff test against The Brazilians, in what's expected to be a fiery bout between the outgoing league champions and current log leaders, at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday.
Wits come into the tie on the back of their first defeat in 10 league games following a 1-0 defeat to Ajax Cape Town in midweek, while Sundowns enjoyed some time to recoup amidst a packed schedule of eight games this month.
Heading into the encounter, the Milpark-based outfit will be stretched at the back as they have to deal with the absence of two key defenders.
Captain and centre-back Thulani Hlatshwayo has been ruled out after suffering a concussion in their CAF Confederation Cup tie against Enyimba last weekend, while left-back Sifiso Hlanti is suspended after picking up his fourth yellow card.
Experienced right-back Nazeer Allie, who often slots into central defense from time to time, is also struggling to regain his fitness after being sidelined through injury, while new arrival Denis Weidlich is going through the final stages of his recovery from an ankle ligament injury sustained at the start of February.
"We're thin defensively, with a lot of players out – 'Tyson' [Hlatshwayo] is out; Nazeer Allie is struggling, Hlanti is obviously suspended," Hunt tells KickOff.com.
"So we're obviously changing the defence and that's a bit of a problem for us, especially against a team like Sundowns, it's not easy.
"Denis is also still working his way back, he's been a big problem for us. He would have helped us a lot, as he did in his first game and then he got injured.
"It's a huge blow having signed Denis and not being able to use him, but that's a perfect example of what the story of our season has been."
Hunt will likely turn to former Kaizer Chiefs left-back Keegan Ritchie in Hlanti's absence, while Bongani Khumalo or Phumlani Ntshangase could partner Buhle Mkhwanazi in central defence.
In attack, Wits will also be without forward Gabadinho Mhango, who suffered a similar ankle ligament injury to Weidlich against Cape Town City a few weeks ago.
The Malawian speedster is expected to miss the rest of the season as he is only midway through his recovery programme, according to the club's physio Nick Brink.