‘Crazy’ SuperSport United schedule leaves Gavin Hunt grumpy even in triumph

SuperSport United goalkeeper Ricardo Goss makes one of his three saves during the penalty shoot-out against Cape Town City on Tuesday night. Photo: BackpagePix

SuperSport United goalkeeper Ricardo Goss makes one of his three saves during the penalty shoot-out against Cape Town City on Tuesday night. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Feb 22, 2024

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There is just no pleasing Gavin Hunt, is there?

Even in victory, the SuperSport United coach maintains his grumpy demeanour, always finding something wrong with his team or whatever else he can.

He was at it again on Tuesday night following Matsatsantsa a Pitori’s progression to the last 16 of the Nedbank Cup, courtesy of a 3-1 victory via a penalty shoot-out.

The sides were deadlocked at 1-1 after 120 minutes, with Shandré Campbell the scorer for SuperSport and Khanyisa Mayo netting for City.

Home goalkeeper Ricardo Goss was the hero with three saves in the shoot-out.

“Obviously we would have been disappointed if we had lost,” Hunt said after the match at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville.

“We had lots of chances tonight. I don’t think we were at our best. We looked a little heavy all over.

“But most important is that we got through, (because) we had not had a good run in past Nedbank Cup competitions.”

It could be that the multiple championship-winning coach is so used to success that nothing really pleases him.

This season in particular, though, Hunt has had a lot to be grumpy about.

If it is not the fact his team has to travel more than 300km to play their home matches in Polokwane, it has been the depleted nature of his lean squad that got the highly decorated coach hot under the collar.

And with SuperSport involved in continental competition, Hunt’s media conferences have somewhat resembled being an audience to a dentist’s root canal operation – the coach has complained that much.

Any hope that progression to the next stage of the country’s premier knockout competition would quieten him down a bit came to nothing on Tuesday night.

“We have a (CAF Confederation Cup) game on Sunday against the team from Egypt (Modern Future) in Polokwane. Then we go to Cape Town (for a league clash with the self-same City).

“Then we come back and go to Algeria (for their final Confederation Cup group match against USM Alger), then arrive back Monday and play again on Wednesday (against Polokwane City).

“It is crazy, but we will see what we’ve got to do.”

The reality, though, is that successful teams get to play more matches and compete on many fronts.

A four-time championship winner – only Pitso Mosimane has won more PSL titles – Hunt has now gone six seasons without his ‘drug’ of choice, and the ‘seven-year itch’ is evident.

“The cups (knockouts) cloud competition, but in South Africa, we love cups. But me as a coach, I’d rather have a good league position.”

His cause is not helped by the fact he is in charge at a club where the chequebook is seemingly locked in a vault.

The seasonal loss of promising young stars that SuperSport have worked hard to develop without them being replaced does not help his case.

And then there are injuries, particularly in the heart of the defence, which have been worse this season.

“Our squad is so depleted ... We need to get a few players back – Tyson (Thulani Hlatshwayo), Ime (Okon) and Keegan (Johannes) for stability at the back,” Hunt added.

“We played people out of position (against City), but they lifted their hands up. It was not a good performance, but a workmanlike performance.”

Next up for Hunt is Modern Future in a campaign that is essentially a lost cause, with SuperSport bottom of the table with three points going into the penultimate round.

Fail to win at the Peter Mokaba Stadium against a team that beat them 1-0 in Egypt back in November, and their continental campaign will be over.

As much as he has said he likes competing on the continent, elimination from the Confederation Cup could well bring relief to a coach who is fast beginning to resemble a ‘grumpy old man’.

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