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A SET piece goal from Timothy Batabaire avoided a 6th consecutive loss for Bidvest Wits in the Absa Premiership. The Clever Boys played to a 1 – 1 draw against Ajax Cape Town on Wednesday night at the Bidvest Stadium.
Only a handful of fans braved the chilly Joburg weather to watch the match, which saw Ajax dominate possession early in the game.
Their consistency paid off in the 10th minute when Thembinkosi Fanteni opened the score sheet after he beat the keeper from close range.
Wits’ first real chance at scoring came from Sifiso Vilakazi ten minutes later, with a left-footed shot that went over the crossbar. Vilakazi subsequently missed another chance at goal in the 20th minute when he failed to convert a cross from Katleho Pule from 25 yards.
In the 59th minute, Ajax’s slim lead was cancelled by Batabaire’s equalizer.
A late strike by Asive Langwe in the 82nd minute was deflected over the bar by Ajax goalkeeper Sander Westerveld.
“We’ve conceded a lot of silly goals”.
Bidvest Wits coach Roger De Sa said it was “expected” of the Clever Boys to equalize. “They’ve got fantastic character, they come from a development that’s well groomed”, he said.
The coach lamented the careless mistakes which his players sometimes made. “It’s just the silly goals we concede sometimes that become a bigger problem for us, and we’ve conceded a lot of silly goals this year out of silly errors,” he said.
Wits take on log leader Orlando Pirates at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday, just 3 days after their encounter with Ajax. “We don’t have too much time to prepare, it’s more a question of rest”, De Sa said.
Wits beat Pirates in their last PSL encounter 3 – 1. Wits is currently 13th in the Absa Premiership log table, and haven’t yet won a game this year.
Published in Vuvuzela 12th edition, 20th April 2012.
BIDVEST Wits play their first match of the 2011/12 Absa Premiership season on Sunday.
The team will hope to put last weekend’s MTN 8 quarter-final loss to Kaizer Chiefs in the past and move on quickly when they travel to Harry Gwala Stadium to face Maritzburg United.
Despite the 2-1 knockout defeat against Amakhosi at FNB Stadium, the Clever Boys displayed great attacking football with danger-man Bhongolwethu Jayiya’s skill and pace causing all sorts of problems for the Chief’s backline in the game’s opening minutes.
Wits stunned Chiefs by taking the lead in the 11th minute through a headed goal by new signing, Sboniso Gumede, after a floated Jayiya corner kick.
Nine minutes later Gumede went from hero to villain by conceding a penalty with an ill-timed tackle on Mandla Masango in the 18-yard box. Amakhosi striker Bernard Parker, on his official debut, slotted the spot-kick into the bottom corner giving Wits keeper Emile Baron no chance of saving.
Chiefs then scored their second goal, and the match winner, four minutes before half-time through Masango who received a brilliant chipped pass from Lehlogonolo Majoro after good interplay by the Chiefs front players.
Despite a few minor errors at the back, Wits coach Roger De Sa will be pleased with the team’s progress so far and hope to keep the attacking momentum displayed by the team at the weekend into Sunday’s game.
Wits will need to create more clear-cut scoring opportunities than they did against Chiefs if they stand any chance of overcoming Maritzburg United and bagging three points. The Students will be boosted by the return of striker Sibusiso Vilakazi to training this week after being forced to sit out in previous games through injury.
Getting the season off to a winning start will be a priority for both teams, and the very competitive match will be played at a high tempo. This fixture produced a 1-1 draw last season, but it is Maritzburg United which has the upper hand after having beaten Wits 2-1 at Bidvest Stadium in their second fixture in the latter stages of the season.
THE final round of Absa Premiership games ends tomorrow afternoon with Ajax Cape Town in the driver’s seat to clinch their first premiership title.
Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates still have an outside chance of “stealing the glory” from Ajax should the latter fail to bank maximum points against Maritzburg United at Cape Town Stadium.
Meanwhile, at Bidvest Stadium the Clever Boys, as the Wits soccer team is known, have been labouring in physical activity in preparation for their final league game against Platinum Stars. Wits will be hoping to win the game and end the season on a positive note by qualifying for the MTN 8 Cup knockout which starts at the beginning of next season.
Wits coach Roger De Sa described the season’s performance as “satisfactory” and is pleased that the team is “among the top overall scorers in the league”.
Wits has not managed to win silverware this season and, moreover, relinquished their possession of the Nedbank Cup title with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Chiefs in the second round. Despite this, De Sa remains optimistic about next season and urges his players to continue giving of their best.
“The players always show 100% commitment whether they get selected to play or not. If we can continue playing our normal attacking football and tighten the defence as well, I think we will do better next season,” he said.
At one stage during the season one would have thought Wits would be a contender for the premiership after an impressive run of victories at Bidvest Stadium. It was however not to be, with the team managing a single win in their last five games and adversely affecting their league standing.
There is still plenty of enthusiasm from the players which is impressive especially at the very end of the season. The players have had a physically draining season and regardless of this, midfielder Stanton Fredericks believes that “it is up to the players to be professional until the end, because the commitment we [the players] show in training will be reflected in the game”.
Fredericks was backed by teammate Sifiso Myeni, who recently won his first Bafana Bafana cap in a 1-0 win away to Tanzania, when he said: “If we all put in a good performance we can beat Platinum Stars and keep our home record to just one league defeat this season”.