Editor's Blog 9.5.2017 12:37 pm

Still more twists in a compelling saga?

Coach Gavin Hunt and Coach Pitso Mosimane during the Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits joint press conference at PSL Offices. (Photo by Gallo Images)

Coach Gavin Hunt and Coach Pitso Mosimane during the Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits joint press conference at PSL Offices. (Photo by Gallo Images)

After another enthralling week in the title race, it is Bidvest Wits who are in charge of their own destiny, and who can guarantee a first Absa Premiership crown with just three more wins to the end of the season.

Not that it is likely to be that simple, in a saga that has already played out with an abundance of twists and turns.

First it was Cape Town City in pole position, then Mamelodi Sundowns, and now it is Wits. Gavin Hunt’s side travel to Bethlehem this week to face Free State Stars in a game that has done them few favours over the years.

If they lose, it will be Sundowns who can move back to the top with a win at home to Baroka FC. The margins remain fine.

City are not out of it either, though it seems likely that their fairy tale will end only with a second- or third-place finish to show for their efforts, as well as the Telkom Knockout title they captured in fine style last year.

Eric Tinkler appears to have accepted as much if his comments in this week’s Phakaaathi are to be believed.

I take with a pinch of salt, meanwhile, Pitso Mosimane’s comments after the Pirates-Sundowns game, where he said, to paraphrase, that Sundowns are not competing with Wits because in his view, Wits “do not care about the African Champions League.”

I actually don’t buy into the school of thought that Wits did not take this year’s Champions League seriously. They lost by the odd goal to Al Ahly, one of the giants of African football.

I do wonder if Sundowns would have made the Champions League group stages if they had played Al Ahly. As it is, they relied on a late goal from Anthony Laffor to scrape past Kampala City Capital Authority.

Mosimane also seems to forget that last year his side were knocked out of both the Champions League and the Caf Confeederation Cup before being granted a reprieve.

Yes, they went on to win the tournament, an incredible feat, but their reprieve is also fact, and Mosimane would do well to show a little more humility. Perhaps he is playing mind games, and it will all emerge as a brilliant Mosimane master plan if Sundowns go on and overtake Wits to win the league. But for now it all sounds totally graceless.

Hunt has tried to play down Wits’ status at times, the implication being that they are some kind of small university side whose challenge for honours is, in itself, something to shout about.

This is also nonsense, in my humble opinion – Wits may not pay the transfer fees of a side like Sundowns but they do have players on very healthy salaries, backed to the hilt by Brian Joffe’s Bidvest.

Wits, with their squad, should be there and thereabouts, and it is about time Hunt brought them the league title, which presumably is exactly why he was hired from SuperSport United.

We hear from Hunt and Wits midfielder Phumlani Ntshangase on the opposite page in this week’s Phakaaathi.

We also bring analysis on Stuart Baxter’s appointment (finally) as Bafana Bafana head coach. He certainly looks much better suited to the Bafana job now than he did when he was first hired in 2004.

In our regular One-on-One feature, meanwhile, we speak to Amajita striker Luther Singh, who could well be key to South Africa’s chances of success at the Fifa Under-20 World Cup later this month.

Congratulations, meanwhile, to Hlompho Kekana for winning Phakaaathi’s Player-of- the-Month competition and to our lucky reader, who takes home R350 in airtime.

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