Bidvest Wits players praised coach Gavin Hunt and he‚ in turn‚ hailed his stars after the club won its first trophy in six years with a 3-0 thumping of Mamelodi Sundowns in the final of the MTN8 cup.
Hunt said players like Daine Klate‚ who scored twice at the Mbombela Stadium‚ and Dominguez (Elias Pelembe) had delivered man-of-the-match performances and proved why they were previous winners of the domestic Footballer of the Year award.
The coach also hailed the role of captain Thulani Hlatshwayo.
“Senior players like Klate and Pelembe have added huge value to the team and we need to keep them pushing. They still have hunger and desire‚” Hunt said after winning his first trophy since moving to Wits after a successful spell at SuperSport United.
Klate‚ in turn‚ said the victory was as a result of Hunt’s tactical wisdom.
“If we listen to what he says‚ we win,” the Port Elizabeth-born Klate said after the match. “The coach pulled me aside last Friday and said ‘let’s practice shooting’.
“We hit 10 extra shots after training every day. What we practiced is exactly what happened in the game‚” the midfielder‚ who clinched his 13th career cup, said.
Klate slammed home a cracker from the edge of the penalty area inside the opening 35 seconds of the game to give Wits a dream start and lay the foundation for their first top eight success since 1995.
Hunt said: “I thought we were very good overall. We got the ball out clean and three or four really good chances in the first half.
“When Sundowns went to three at the back in the second half‚ they pushed us back but‚ to be fair‚ we never looked threatened.”
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has again voiced concern about his charges running out of steam .
“I’ve said it before, not only now‚ and we saw it against Zesco‚ that we are showing that we are running a little bit out of steam – not getting to the second balls and tackles,” Mosimane said. “I’m happy I have said it before and not now just because we had lost.
“It has been a challenge to play against well rested teams. It’s a challenge to lift up the team.
“But we can also say these things happen for a reason. Maybe [if] we won the MTN8 and we [would not] win the Champions League. I’d swap that‚ because the MTN8 is going to come around every year but the Champions League not often,” he said. “It takes many years to get there.
“But I’m not trying to say we didn’t want to beat Wits. We tried‚ we wanted to win it but we lost it.
“But we’ll come back to the top eight again.”
Sundowns next meet Zamalek in the first leg of the African Champions League final in Atteridgeville on October 15, with the return leg in Egypt a week later.
Mosimane said it was key that his Sundowns players now tried to rest as much as possible.
“We’ve been going for 15 months, but we knew about the programme so we are not complaining.
“We never got any rhythm going.”