Johannesburg – Gavin Hunt has, over the past several weeks, argued that the MTN8 title is a bad omen. But it is difficult to see how his Bidvest Wits side could capitulate at any point this season.
They are genuine title contenders – if anyone is still wondering.They are unstoppable, and most importantly they have the right balance to challenge for a sort of Absa Premiership and cup double.
Hunt completed step one of this process at the weekend when the Clever Boys ruthlessly put reigning league champions Mamelodi Sundowns to the sword in a 3-0 demolition at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit to clinch the season’s first piece of silverware.
In fact, it is just the kind of kick this team has needed since Hunt took over four campaigns ago, but often came within touching distance of a league title and a domestic cup.
The ghost of barren trophy cabinets has been exorcised.
What made their victory on Saturday evening all the more sweeter was the fact that they did it against a Brazilians side on a high having reached the final of the CAF Champions League, and are still considered favourites to retain their Premier League title.
But now everyone knows that Wits will have a big say in the championship race, the same way they have over the past three seasons, but perhaps even more so now.
They have the squad to pull it off: Daine Klate, two-goal hero at the weekend and a man who won his umpteenth domestic cup, Gabadinho Mhango, Eleazar Rodgers, Xolani Mlambo, Thabang Monare, Elias Pelembe and a strong bench.
In goal, Darren Keet kept a fourth successive clean sheet and cemented his place in Hunt’s starting line-up.
Moeneeb Josephs, a regular at the club for some time now, is in danger and will find it extremely difficult to regain his place as first choice keeper. Either way, no one can complain with two top class goalkeepers available.
Don’t forget young Kyle Peters who the coach is convinced is even better, but obviously doesn’t have the experience yet.
This MTN8 trophy was a bad omen for Ajax Cape Town, last season’s winners, because they simply did not have the squad to cope with the pressure that followed such early success.
That blend of youth and experience just wasn’t enough. Moroka Swallows, who are now relegated from the top-flight, went on a downward spiral after winning this cup because they were still riding on the wave from the campaign before when they finished as runners-up to Orlando Pirates in the championship race in 2012.
Platinum Stars capitulated because they were in unfamiliar territory, but bounced back to finish in the top eight bracket to defend a trophy they won in 2013.
Hunt doesn’t need to worry. He has match-winners and should be reminded that the Pirates back-to-back treble in 2011 and 2012 included an MTN8 trophy on both occasions.
And when Chiefs celebrated a league and cup double two seasons ago, then coach Stuart Baxter’s first piece of silverware that year was an MTN8 winners’ medal.
This is no bad omen for Hunt, it’s only a start.