Clever Boys Hunt for a semi-final spot

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”You can possibly say that they are our hoodoo side, but it has not been for a lack of effort or opportunities created,” says the Clever Boys coach as he prepares his men for another clash against the Bethlehem-based outfit in this Saturday’s Nedbank Cup quarter-final encounter at Goble Park.

Any type of response might have been out of character for Hunt. He believes those who have watched the two teams collide are entitled to their own opinions, like when the coach claimed Wits could have walloped Stars by “a cricket score” following their goalless draw in the Absa Premiership at the weekend and the remarks were rebuffed by journalists and commentators.

Hunt is a horses for courses kind of coach, which suggests he might not have picked the right line-up to do the job against Ea Lla Koto on three occasions -one defeat and two draws - so far in this campaign.

”If you watched the game and understand football, you will know what I am talking about when I say we could have won by a cricket score.

“I am always honest in my assessment of the game. I said we were poor against Jomo Cosmos last week, but we won. People can say whatever they want, but I will always give an honest assessment,” Hunt explains, clearly annoyed that those who witnessed a 10-men Stars hold Wits to a stalemate thought he exaggerated in his post-match comments.

Then why are Stars so difficult to beat, even with a new man - Giovanni Solinas - at the helm? The Italian replaced Ernst Middendorp on New Year’s Eve. “It could be the muti (magical charms) or the impact of the coaches,” Hunt jokes. “We went to Bethlehem already (in September) and lost 1-0 in the Telkom Knockout.

“But I expect an honest performance this weekend, where we create chances and get something out of it. Every game is important for us, whether in the league or cup.”

Unlike his counterparts at log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, Hunt has not come under-fire despite a lack of silverware since his arrival at Wits two seasons ago.

And facing a side that has reduced them to look like a mid-table outfit so far without key players means it could be the end of another cup run.”We have Thulani Hlatshwayo, Elias Pelembe, Papy Faty and possibly James Keene out. Nobody has said a word because we have not complained, instead we got on with our business,” says Hunt.

“For sometime now we have managed without young Phakamani Mahlambi (who was ruled out for nine months after a knee injury in February) and that has been a big blow for us. Take Khama Billiat out of that Sundowns team and you will see a different team.”Winger Mahlambi burst on the scene early this season had scored five goals in 14 league matches before being sidelined.

“He is terribly missed because with him in the team we had the pace and the ability to take people on. We haven’t got that anymore,” laments Hunt.

The Star

Original source: Clever Boys Hunt for a semi-final spot

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