The defending MTN8 champions put on a resilient display in their season-opening clash at Bidvest Stadium on Friday evening as they came from behind to beat Arrows in a penalty shootout.
The Clever Boys started on the front foot for the opening 15 minutes but were quickly displaced by Abafana Bes’thende – taking a quick two-goal lead in a 13-minute period – before gnawing their way back to 2-2 in regulation time.
A red card for debutant Slavko Damjanovic forced Hunt into a substitution, and he surprisingly opted to haul off central midfielder Granwald Scott rather than Pule – a move that proved fruitful as the inspired winger went on to put out a man-of-the-match performance.
"I think the coach believes in me, and I have to just believe more in myself so that I can get more game-time,” said Pule, who featured a total of just six times in all competitions last season.
Upon being replaced by Gabadinho Mhango in the 76th minute, fans booed as they felt Pule deserved to continue due to his liveliness on the park.
However, the 25-year-old felt he had done his job and needed to give someone else an opportunity, but admitted to feeling special upon hearing the crowd’s reaction.
“I was happy because I did my job and I had to give others a chance to do their job. It’s encouraging when the fans are clapping hands for you, it was unbelievable,” he said.
The former African Warriors attacker also praised his side’s character for fighting their way back in the tie in regulation time before spectacularly coming from 2-0 down to win the penalty shootout in sudden death.
“I think when you’re a champion, you have to show that you’re a champion and you have to fight back. We can’t sit back and just say, ‘we lost.’ We have to fight and that’s what we did, and the goals just came,” added Pule.
“I think we had more chances in the first 15 minutes, then we slowed down and they came at us. We then lost shape and that’s why they scored those two goals, but we came back nicely and got the two goals.”
Asked what the message from the coach was during the half-time break, Pule revealed: “He [Hunt] said, ‘We’re on top of them, we just have to keep going and double our efforts and everything will fall into place.’"