Defender crisis hits SuperSport as they take on City

Allan, Ikon on hold, Hlatshwayo injured

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt addresses the media yesterday ahead of their clash against Cape Town City tonight.
SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt addresses the media yesterday ahead of their clash against Cape Town City tonight.

Quipping he may again be tempted to field a player who primarily plays in a different position at the heart of defence, like he did with Thamsanqa Gabuza last season, Gavin Hunt has bewailed the unavailability of most of his centre-backs.

Hunt’s SuperSport United host Cape Town City in the first round of the Nedbank Cup at Lucas Moripe Stadium tonight  (7pm).

Last season, Hunt played striker Thamsanqa Gabuza at centre-back, due to the unavailability of his natural centre-halves, in the first round of the same tournament against second-tier Dondol Stars, who eliminated them by a 2-1 scoreline at home.

This time around, SuperSport have three of their experienced centre-backs sidelined. While newcomer Keegan Allan and Ime Ikon are suspended, Thulani Hlatshwayo is out with a long-term injury, leaving the Tshwane side with Siyanda Xulu as the only proven centre-back. Xulu himself may be fatigued after helping Bafana Bafana win bronze at the recent Afcon in Ivory Coast.

“Possibly, yeah because we’ve got none [centre-backs] left,” Hunt said at yesterday’s press conference when asked if he’d do what he did with Gabuza tonight against City.

“We’ve run out of centre-backs, haven’t we? One is injured and others are suspended, so that area of the field has been very tough for us and it’s no coincidence that we are third when we should be six, eight points clear  second, that’s for sure because we struggle in that department.

“We can’t keep bodies on the field in that area… it’s been a major, major concern. It’s no  coincidence that we [have] conceded a lot of goals [they’ve leaked 20 goals from 17 league outings] in our position we are in the league… if we didn’t, as I’ve said, we would’ve been six or eight points clear of the third-placed team… much closer to first.”

Hunt also suggested that he was somewhat happy they were pitted against  City rather than against a team from lower leagues. “I think you can know as much as you want about the opposition, you are still going to play them,”  Hunt said.

“We play against City more often and we see each other more often but that doesn’t make it any easier to play against them, but definitely playing against a team that you know is better than playing a team that’s a closed book.”


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