Citizens out to stop tactical Hunt

Gavin Hunt. | BackpagePix

Gavin Hunt. | BackpagePix

Published Feb 20, 2024



THOUGH pleased to be facing a familiar foe in the form of Cape Town City, instead of lower division outfits that could prove a potential banana skin, Gavin Hunt says there is nothing easy about SuperSport United’s Nedbank Cup round of 32 assignment.

Matsatsansa a Pitori host the Citizens at the Lucas Moripe Stadium this evening keen to avoid a stumble at the first hurdle, like the one they suffered last year when they were knocked out by lower league side Dondol Stars.

“It’s obviously not an easy draw (because) both are competitive teams on the same points in the league,” Hunt said, of the second- and third-placed outfits who are on 30 points from 17 matches. “And we are playing them again in the league next week.”

Is it better to face a team you know, though?

“I don’t think you can ever know as much as you want about the opposition, even then you still have to play them. Yes, we (SuperSport and City) know each other more because we play each other often but that does not make it any easier, (although) unknown teams are difficult to beat.”

As he has done for most of the season, Hunt lamented the fact he will have to face yet another match with a depleted squad given injuries – particularly to his central defenders.

“We’ve got no defenders left. We have run out of centre backs because of suspensions and injuries. That area of the field has been a problem for us.”

He believes his club could be seriously challenging Mamelodi Sundowns for the league title were it not for their lack of depth.

“We are third (on the 16-team Premiership table) but we should be six or eight points clear of the second team. It is a major concern that we are getting injuries and suspensions because we should be much closer to (Sundowns in) first. But it is what it is.”

And with SuperSport also involved in continental competition – they have a CAF Confederation Cup assignment on Sunday – Hunt is forced to prioritise some competitions over others.

“The team that will play on Sunday will be an under-16 side, not even an under-18 because they’ll be involved in the Diski,” he said of Matsatsantsa’s penultimate group stage clash with Modern Future at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.

How does the best football team in the land, some would argue the continent, prepare for a clash against a lower division side everyone expects them to beat with ease?

The same way they do for a clash against their biggest rivals – thoroughly and with a lot of research and homework on their unheralded opponents. It is the Mamelodi Sundowns way. No shortcuts.

And in living up to their standards, coach Rhulani Mokwena has been to Dobsonville Stadium to watch first division outfit La Masia in action against Tuks. The young coach has, as he always does, spent evenings watching a couple of videos of the club many would argue Sundowns would beat using their weakest starting line-up.

He would have watched a third one on Monday night prior to this evening’s Nedbank Cup clash between the two sides. At a pre-match media conference for the clash that La Masia will host at the Dobsonville Stadium tonight (7pm), Mokwena was his typical excited self as he ‘showed off’ his knowledge of the opposition.

“We are looking forward to it (the match). It’s an interesting team that we will be playing against, well-coached. Daine Klate and his technical team have done a good job to reach this stage.”

Whereas many an elite league coach usually laments the difficulty that comes with playing against lower division sides given that they are often an ‘unknown quantity’, Mokwena beamed as he spoke of the homework he and his team did on their opponents.

“Given what Dondol (Stars) did last season, you can’t underestimate any team,” he said, in reference to the lower division team’s giant-killing acts in last year’s edition of the competition

“We had to work very hard to profile the team. Fortunately there are a lot of (their) players who played in the PSL (previously).

“We managed to get to a couple of (videos of) their games and I attended their game against Tuks. So, I am looking forward to what should be an interesting encounter.”

Gavin Hunt. | BackpagePix