Hunt plays down sluggish start ahead of Pirates showdown

looking ahead Thulani Hlatshwayo and Gavin Hunt have had a bad start at SuperSport United. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix

looking ahead Thulani Hlatshwayo and Gavin Hunt have had a bad start at SuperSport United. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu / BackpagePix

Despite having a less than desirable start to his second stint with SuperSport United, Gavin Hunt believes it is only a matter of time before his side starts winning matches.

The four-time league-winning coach, who rejoined United on a two-year deal last month, has yet to taste victory with Matsatsantsa after three rounds of matches.

A similar sluggish start dogged his five-month stint with Chippa United and Kaizer Chiefs, where he was in charge for eight months.

Hunt joined Chiefs ahead of the 2020/21 season in September 2020, replacing Ernst Middendorp.

The 58-year-old was fired in May last year, before the end of his first season at Naturena, with two games remaining.

His dismissal was largely because Chiefs, while doing well in the CAF Champions League, struggled to recover from a poor start. They sneaked into the top eight on the final day of the campaign.

READ: Chiefs fire Gavin Hunt

Hunt was not in the unemployment queues for long, though, as he joined Gqeberha-based Chippa at the start of the 2021/22 season. The club initially put him on precautionary suspension when it had its worst start to a premiership campaign after 10 matches.

Now Hunt is having another faulty start, this time with SuperSport, as the Tshwane side drew against Chippa and was beaten by AmaZulu and TS Galaxy.

It does not get any easier for Hunt and SuperSport, as they face a sharp-looking Orlando Pirates team in Atteridgeville this afternoon. Kickoff is at 5.30pm at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.

After Pirates, unbeaten rookies Richards Bay – who went into yesterday’s match against Chiefs in Durban tied at the top of the log with Galaxy on seven points – lie in wait in Umlazi on Wednesday.

Then comes a Tshwane derby clash against Mamelodi Sundowns in the quarterfinals of the MTN8 on Sunday.

It may be early in the season, but it could quickly go pear-shaped for Hunt and SuperSport.

Nevertheless, ahead of the Pirates showdown today, Hunt played down the team’s unpromising beginning.

He said:

One point after three games isn’t a great start, but if you look at the games individually, we’re happy with where we are in terms of how we’re playing and the chances we’re creating. It’s a fine line. If the ball goes in, you win a match. We’ve been a bit exposed at the back and that’s disappointing.

“We’ve conceded some soft goals, even though every time you concede a goal, you would say it was soft, while the opposition would say it was a great goal.

“We can control our performances, which have been good, but we can’t control the results. Nobody can. If our performances had been bad in the three games, then there’d be reason to worry.”

Hunt won three titles with SuperSport United between 2008 and 2010 and added a fourth one with the now defunct Bidvest Wits in 2017.

Asked what a poor start does to a young team like SuperSport and the way it affects the rest of the campaign, Hunt said: “I’ve been in this game for a long time. When I came here the first time, we had four points after the first five games. We were at the bottom, but we won the league that year [2007/08].

This thing can turn around quickly. You can play badly and win games. The important thing is that everybody pulls in the same direction and has the same understanding.

While United are struggling, Pirates – who have played a game more than their hosts for today – will be looking for consistency and to keep in touch with the early title contenders.

With two wins, a draw and a defeat from four matches, they have a new profile under new coach José Riveiro.

The Spaniard, who joined the team at the beginning of last month, is slowing applying his philosophy to the Buccaneers, so far to positive effect.

READ: Who is this little-known Pirates coach José Riveiro?

“We landed yesterday from Durban and we had a recuperation day today [Friday] after playing four games in nine days. This is going to be our fifth game and we’ll be playing again on Wednesday against a team who need to get points [as all teams do] at the beginning of the season,” said Riveiro.

“I think SuperSport is one of those teams who should have had more points already. Considering the games they’ve played and the number of chances they created in them, they got less than they deserved. They have a coach who knows how he wants to play football and has a huge reputation in this country.

I don’t expect big surprises in their approach and I know it will be an interesting fight, but we’re going to try to improve on our last performances. I’m sure we’ll be competitive and go out there with the intention of dominating the game.

One player who will be eager to put one behind his former club is former Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, who was released by Pirates in the off season.

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