Sibongiseni Gumbi
Football writer
3 minute read
5 Nov 2020
9:24 am

Hunt defends Chiefs’ older players as the team struggles for results

Sibongiseni Gumbi

"This season we are going to need everybody. The biggest problem with those type of players is the pre-season. There was no pre-season, it was just two weeks.," said the Kaizer Chiefs head coach.

Erick Mathoho is getting fit by playing, says Gavin Hunt. Pic: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt has defended the club’s senior players who have not made any notable contributions since the season started, saying their are lagging behind in fitness becayse of their ages.

READ MORE: Opinion: Meek Kaizer Chiefs badly need to find some punch

Amakhosi have struggled this season with just two wins (one in a cup game) in five matches played so far and have also twice suffered an embarassing 3-0 defeat.

They have conceded seven goals and scored three ( and the goal against Chippa is credited as an own goal to a Chilli Boys player).

And with the club serving a two-window transfer ban, the senior players in the squad were expected to take centre stage and guide the youngsters. But that has not happened with the likes of Willard Katsande and Lebogang Manyama playing bit parts leaving Nkosingiphile Ngcobo (20) and Njabulo Blom (20) driving the team’s engine room.

Asked about this big responsibility he has had to put on the young shoulders of the likes of Ngcobo and Blom, Hunt gave a diplomatic answer.

“This season we are going to need everybody. The biggest problem with those type of players is the pre-season. There was no pre-season, it was just two weeks.

There was also the break (due to the cornavirus outbreak from March to August) and they were out of the game for some time. Obviously, the older you are, the longer it takes to get fit and match ready. So, I am trying to do pre-season while the games are on for a lot of these players.

“I mentioned Tower (Erick Mathoho) earlier, he has now trained with us for two days, so I am trying to play him to fitness. I am doing the same with Katsande. I am trying to play them to fitness. That’s all I can do,” said Hunt.

“It’s a unique situation. The younger players will get fit quicker and that’s perhaps why what happened in the bio-bubble happened. Once you stop, when you get to a certain age, it’s very difficult to get your legs going again. They need a proper six or seven weeks to really get up to speed. So, I am going to try and play all the older ones to fitness. (Leonardo) Castro is another one, he didn’t train.

“I have been here for over a month now and he hasn’t trained and I am trying to play him (back) to fitness. I left him out of the team tonight (against TS Galaxy on Wednesday night) because he has played three games in a week. It gets very difficult with the older players,” explained the 56-year-old mentor.

Hunt also explains his constant changing of the team as he struggles to find his best 11 to start games with.

“We haven’t really had everybody available (becuase of injuries) and obviously the squad is not the biggest. So, that’s the reason for the chopping and changing – it’s been down to players not being available.”

Asked how important the upcoming MTN8 semifinal Soweto Derby second leg is, where they have to overturn a 3-0 deficit to Orlando Pirates on Sunday, Hunt didn’t give much away, saying what matters more is what the team achieves ,not just doing well in the derby.

“I think there is too much emphasis put on these type of games, of course I understand the rivalry but let’s see where we are at the end of the season.”

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