Bidvest Wits slide into third

The Clever Boys came back from a spirit dampening loss against Mamelodi Sundowns last week to taking the third spot on the log after showing Maritzburg United how its done.

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PERFECT BOOT: Bidvest Wits debutant and goal scorer, Kris Bright trying to break the defence of opponents, Maritzburg United. Photo: Anlerie de Wet

ROUND THREE of the Absa Premiership saw Bidvest Wits beat their KwaZulu-Natal guests at home Wednesday night and slide into a familiar third place on the rankings.

Maritzburg United’s captain Ashley Hartog made a visible effort to keep the players forged in Jozi from scoring, but two powerful goals flew past him and his team.

After what was a very slow start for the Clever Boys with a couple of failed open shots at goal, New Zealander Kris Bright scored a beauty from Daine Klaite’s corner kick.

Bright had a massive game and worked well with Elias Pelembe and Sibusiso Vilakazi until he was sent to rest in the middle of the second half.

Wits kicked-off the second half with Vilakazi’s right boot directing the ball past the Maritzburg goalie, Virgil Vries, to stretch the home side’s lead to 2-0. This goal came two minutes after the start of the half with a great assist from debutant Bright.

With many attempts at goal none of the teams seemed to be able to score after Vilakazi’s success, leaving the final score at 2-0.

The discipline in this game was something to strive for in the rest of the season.  There were only a total of three yellow cards between the two teams as Wits already had five yellows against them from two games and Maritzburg a troubling 13.

Wits managed to move-up the rankings from 10th to 3rd with six points, just below their Ajax Cape Town rivals. But the Maritzburg boys failed to sway away from their 15th position.

Although the Clever Boys’ performance is a step-up from that of their 4-2 defeat last week against Mamelodi Sundowns, they still failed to convert a couple of easy opportunities. They won’t get away with these slip-ups as easily when they face the calibre of Ajax this Saturday in the MTN 8 semi-finals.

Bidvest Wits will be taking on AmaTuks in their next Absa Premiership round on September 13 in Pretoria.

SOCCER: Bidvest Wits take over Mamelodi Sundowns’ second place

The Clever Boys snatch second place on the log after a 1-0 victory over the Brazilians at home last night. 

DOWN TO THIRD PLACE: Mamelodi Sundowns dropped to third place with 37 points on the table while Sibusiso Vilakazi's 1-0 lead moved Bidvest Wits up to second place with 40 points.             Photo: Nqobile Dludla

DOWN TO THIRD PLACE: Mamelodi Sundowns dropped to third place with 37 points on the table while Sibusiso Vilakazi’s 1-0 lead moved Bidvest Wits up to second place with 40 points. Photo: Nqobile Dludla

A second half victory goal from Sibusiso Vilakazi ended the defending champions Mamelodi Sundown’s 15 game unbeaten run in the league at the Bidvest Stadium on Tuesday night.

The hosts moved up to second place with 40 points, while Sundowns dropped to third place with 37 points.

Sundowns’ coach Pitso Mosimane who was disappointed stressed that it was “a difficult game” as his men pushed hard against The Clever Boy’s defensive wall.

“We all want to win but tonight was not the night. Malajila could have stole it there but that did not happen . When the ball hits the post in the last minute and doesn’t go in, you just know that it’s not your night but you have to accept defeat”, said Mosimane.

The Clever Boys came out guns blazing with the first chance coming from Vilakazi at the far post, his chance was missed though as his attempt landed in the hands of goalkeeper Dennis Onyango in the first 2 minutes of the game.

Earning a chance from a set-piece, Jabulani Shongwe’s over the post shot hindered a lead from The Clever Boys who dominated with ball possession in the opening minutes .

The Brazilians finally made a run past the center line after three minutes into the game with Khama Billiat sneaking a pass to the fast paced Cuthbert Malajila who threatened to net one, but Thulani Hlatshwayo quickly stopped The Brazilians.

In the 19th minute Billiat tried for another chance which went straight to Moenneb Josephs.

A promising free kick from Teko Modise after he was tripped by Phumlani Ntshangase failed to materialize as Bidvest Wits applied pressure at the back.

The hopeful Kees Kwakman had a brilliant opportunity to send The Clever Boys into a lead in the 40th minute as he sent a potential lead goal straight over the goal post from inside the box, leaving Bidvest Wits fans shaking their heads in disappointment.

Gavin Hunt’s men won the tactical battle in the first half, but for all their dominance in the first half they still had no goals to show.

Sundowns came back from half time with a slight change of attitude as they bravely tried to keep their place as runners up on the log, but a duel  attack by Bidvest Wits players Henrico Botes and Faty inside the box sent Onyango and Ramahlwe Phahlele on the ground.

Winning a second set-piece, Sundowns Modise sent his shot well over the top from a good position following a desperate scramble from The Clever Boys defence.

Hunt’s men finally proved their dominance when Nhlapo passed a straight shot to Vilakazi who dribbled past the sliding Mphahlele and netted a lead goal.

Shongwe threatened to give The Clever boys another goal when his attempt was shot wide after receiving a pass from Vilakazi.

Sundowns nearly equalized the score when Malajila’s golden opportunity hit the right goal post.

With under two minutes to go, the Brazilians pushed hard to equalize, but as the minutes died out it was clear that Mosimane’s men will be forced to give way to Bidvest Wits as they collected three points with their victory.

 

 

Clever Boys eager for fourth place finish

WITH only four games to go in the ABSA Premiership, and Bidvest Wits sitting fourth on the log, the Clever Boys’ match against reigning champions Orlando Pirates on Saturday is poised to be a thriller.

Wits are aiming to hold on to fourth place for their highest ever finish since the league’s inception in 1996, with only one point separating them from fifth-placed Supersport United. Pirates, nine points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs, are also looking for a win with their hopes of winning a third consecutive league trophy diminishing fast.

Only a victory will keep the Bucs in the title race.

Bidvest have had a tremendous season under African Nations Cup-winning coach Clive Barker, who has the team playing attacking football. A player who has shone for Wits this season is midfielder and captain Sibusiso Vilakazi.

Playmaker: Sibusiso Vilakazi has been key to the Clever Boys' success this season.

Playmaker: Sibusiso Vilakazi has been key to the Clever Boys’ success this season.

 

The 23-year-old is an important part of a Wits midfield quintet that has played the socks off a majority of opponents this season. His performances, especially over the past two seasons, have earned the Meadowlands-born lynchpin plenty of admirers.

Although he has only scored three goals this season, Vilakazi is chief instigator of Bidvest’s forward play and has an eye for a pass, combined with pace and skill.

He is modest about his own talents though, and accepts praise reluctantly.

“I never thought or imagined I would be a pro footballer. But once I joined Wits I could see myself one step closer to making the first team.”

“Zuma” or “General”, as he has been dubbed by supporters, took to the game at the age of eight and never looked back. He has played continually except for in his matric year when he had to decide between school and pursuing a football career.

He decided to do both and is currently studying business management at Unisa.

“It’s pressure balancing the football with the studies, but you have to commit yourself and do the job”.

Wits will be counting on their captain to do the job for them on Saturday against Pirates and lead his team to a tenth victory and step closer to a top four finish.

mfuneko@witsvuvuzela.com