Hunt's appraisal of his players after Chiefs' defeat to Leopards: 'They worked hard‚ best they can'

Gavin Hunt of Kaizer Chiefs during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 game between Maritzburg United and Kaizer Chiefs at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.
Gavin Hunt of Kaizer Chiefs during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 game between Maritzburg United and Kaizer Chiefs at Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.
Image: Steve Haag/BackpagePix

Kaizer Chiefs suffered yet another humiliation against DStv Premiership relegation battlers on Wednesday with their 2-1 defeat to Black Leopards‚ and coach Gavin Hunt also sounded notably defeated in his post-match appraisal of the game.

Chiefs spurned a 1-0 lead from Leonardo Castro’s 10th-minute strike and it was desperate‚ last-placed Leopards who fought hardest to come back with goals by winger Tiklas Thutlwa in the 44th and 64th at Thohoyandou Stadium.

Amakhosi played in patches and were unconvincing. And yet‚ Chiefs‚ like Leopards‚ do also have much to play for.

They came into the game in 11th place and seeking to earn points in their final three matches to strive for a top eight place‚ and to avoid matching or ending lower than their two worst league finishes of ninth.

Hunt struggled to explain a third defeat against relegation battlers in the last five weeks – in late April and early May they lost to two teams occupying 15th place at the time in the space of a week‚ 1-0 against Chippa United and 2-1 against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila.

“Ja‚ a good start‚ you know‚ we had a great chance to make it 2-0‚ and then they got the one just before half time‚ [their] first real attack. And‚ you know‚ you’ve got to defend better - we didn’t defend better‚” Hunt said.

“We had a great chance again at 1-1‚ for Castro to score‚ and they got the second one.”

Hunt said of his players’ performance: “They worked hard‚ best they can.”

The coach’s appraisal of Thutlwa’s first goal‚ a minute before the break‚ coming from their first real attack was off the mark. In fact it came after sustained pressure from Lidoda Duvha‚ for whom Edwin Gyimah unmarked headed over‚ Tsheamo Mashoene headed off target from a better position.

Hunt’s one-line responses in the wake of defeats are notorious. After such a debilitating loss‚ it was not surprising he was not in verbose mood.

Still‚ the coach’s half-hearted replies on an audio clip sent out by Chiefs’ communications head Vina Maphosa‚ who was asking the questions‚ did seem reflective of a coach under pressure‚ and not pleased with events:

Question: What does the loss do to your team?

Hunt: Well we’ve got to keep going. We’ve got two games left - we’ve got to keep going.

Question: Do you think preparing for the next five‚ six days for the next game you’ll be ready:

Hunt: Yeah‚ we have to be.

Chiefs did come out swinging to take the lead again after the break. Leopards‚ though‚ again settled into a better rhythm‚ and showed greater urgency on and off the ball‚ and Thutlwa’s second strike and winner came as they were exerting again pressure.

Chiefs now may need maximum points against third-placed Lamontville Golden Arrows at FNB Stadium on Wednesday and ninth-placed TS Galaxy in their final fixture at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Saturday‚ June 5 to finish higher than ninth.

Amakhosi are also not mathematically clear of the 15th-placed playoff position‚ but it will take them losing both games‚ and a number of wins for the teams placed from 12th to 15th for that to happen.