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.

bidvest

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.

PSL celebrates top players

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) finished off the 2014/15 with its annual awards ceremony at the Sandton Convention Centre last night.

Kaizer Chiefs’ Tefu Mashamaite walked away with half a million rands and the title of the best player in the Premier Soccer League last night. Mashamaite also won the defender of the season and players’ player of the season awards at the

Another big winner for the evening was veteran midfielder Teko Modise of Mamelodi Sundowns. The 32-year-old Modise walked away with awards for midfielder of the season and player of the tournament in the Nedbank Cup.

Bidvest Wits, who finished third in the PSL at 52 points, went into the awards with three nominations.  Moneeb ‘Slimkat’ Josephs took the goalkeeper of the season nod while Phumlani Ntshangase was chosen as the young player of the season.

Wits’ Thulani Hlatshwayo was also nominated but lost the defender of the season award to Mashamaite.

Kazier Chiefs were the biggest winners of the evening, with two pieces of silverware under their belt from the MTN 8 and the ABSA Premiership 2014/15 title. Coach Stuart Baxter of Amakhosi Amahle walked away with coach of the season and George Maluleke was the last man standing in the MTN 8.

A complete list of the winners is below:

TELKOM KNOCKOUT:

Champions: SuperSport United

Player of the Tournament: Dove Wome (Supersport United)

MTN 8:

Champions: Kazier Chiefs

Last Man Standing (player of the tournament): George Maluleke (Kazier Chiefs)

All three nominated players in this category were from Kazier Chiefs

Nedbank Cup:

Champions: Mamelodi Sundowns

Player of the Tournament: Teko Modise (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Young Player of the Tournament: Tashreeq Morris (Ajax Cape Town)

Other awards within the PSL:

Top Goal scorer in the National First Division: Phumelele Bhengu (Thanda Royal Zulu)

Multichoice Diski Challenge Player of the Tournament: Dikgang Ngcobo (University of Pretoria)

Referee of the Season: Phillip Tinyani

Assistant Referee of the Season: Peter Chauke

Chairman’s Award: Botha Msila – staunch supporter of Bloemfontein Celtics

ABSA Premiership

Goalkeeper of the Season: Moneeb Josephs (Bidvest Wits)

Young Player of the Season: Phumlani Ntshangase (Bidvest Wits)

Coach of the Season: Stuart Baxter (Kazier Chiefs)

Top Goal Scorer of the Season: Moeketsi Sekola (Free State Stars)

ABSA Premiership Champs: Kazier Chiefs

Defender of the Season: Tefu Mashamaite (Kazier Chiefs)

Midfielder of the Season: Teko Modise (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Absa-lutely Awesome Goal: Menzi Masuku (Orlando Pirates)

Players’ player of the Season (voted for by other players): Tefu Mashamaite (Ka9izer Chiefs)

Footballer of the Season (voted for by the 16 PSL coaches): Tefu Mashamaite (Kaizer Chiefs)

Clever Boys end season with a win at home 

Bidvest Wits come away with their second consecutive third place in the Absa Premiership. Although Wits let their guard down in the last game of the season, they came away with a win at home.

IMG_7873

HUMBLE WITS:Bidvest Wits squad posing for a photo with fans on the field after the game. Photo: Anlerie de Wet

The Clever Boys slipped one goal past the Platinum Stars earlier today to finish third, one above Orlando Pirates, on the Absa Premiership table.

After taking to the field at the Bidvest stadium, the teams joined the crowd in a moment of silence for the victims of xenophobia. 

The first half was very slow paced with Bidvest Wits holding the majority of the ball possession. The home team received many opportunities at goal but struggled to push it through.

After a number of attempts at goal,  Vincent Pule, in the number twelve jersey, sliced the ball past five Platinum Stars players to put Wits on the score board in the 30th minute.

In the last twenty minutes of the game play slowed as both teams seemed to have lost focus.

The ref gave an extra four minutes for injury time in which Hunt instructed his team to keep the ball and let the time run out. As time ran out Wits kicked the ball out of play and the final whistle blew.

“I’m happy we managed to get a point, but we just couldn’t convert chances,” said Bidvest Wits captain, Buhle Makwanazi.
“Platinum Stars have good individual players and are not an easy team to face … although we played well, we need to work on conversions,” said Makhwanazi.

Wits’ goal for the 2014/2015 premiership was to surpass last year’s third place season finish, according to coach Gavin Hunt. “We wanted to do better this year, but third is still fantastic,” Hunt said. 

Compared to last season’s statistics, Bidvest Wits are down by three points and had one less win. Kaizer Chiefs won the premiership with Mamelodi Sundowns finishing in second.  

The General marches forward

KICKER: The General, Sibusiso Vilakazi is not so relaxed about making it to the top.  Photo: Luca Kotton

KICKER: The General, Sibusiso Vilakazi is not so relaxed about making it to the top.
Photo: Luca Kotton

Sibusiso Vilakazi started playing soccer at the age of 11. At 24, the captain of Bidvest Wits is the newest member of Bafana Bafana and has dreams of playing internationally in the near future.

Vilakazi started his career playing street soccer in Meadowlands, Soweto and was later signed by local team, Meadowlands Chelsea, as a goalkeeper.

The current midfielder of both the national team and the Clever Boys made his (PSL) Premier Soccer League debut in 2009 when he joined Bidvest Wits juniors and Bidboys. He says it has always been his dream to play for an overseas professional team.

Vilakazi tried out several times for Danish club Brondby FC in the past two years with a deal falling through at the last minute each time.

“I have experienced setbacks but everything happens for a reason. I have faith that it will happen someday,” he said.

The soccer star is however making strides locally having been tirelessly pursued by the Glamour Boys, Kaizer Chiefs, this past transfer window.

Nicknamed “General” by his fans, Vilakazi was called up to the national team in October 2013 and nearly a year later says he still gets excited to represent his country. “Every time I go play for the team I get very excited,” he says.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela in his number 10 Wits jersey, Vilakazi says he prefers to spend his spare time with his family in Meadowlands.

“I am a family man,” he says but adds that he occasionally has a few drinks with his friends.

‘Vila’, as most of his Wits teammates call him, says he makes it his priority to build solid friendships with the players. “We need to have that relationship as a team,” says Vilakazi.

As for his pre-match routines, Vilakazi takes a relaxed approach. “I sit on my bed for hours, with the TV on and think about the game,” he says.

And for the question his female fans most want the answer to: Vilakazi says he currently doesn’t have a girlfriend but appreciates the adoration he has been getting from his devoted supporters.

Wits’ Clever Boys kick off the season with a solid start

 

CAPTAINS DUEL: Sibusiso Vilakazi battles for the ball with Maritzburg United captain Ashley Hartog in a match which saw the Clever Boys create multiple chances but manage to only score a solitary goal. Photo: Luca Kotton

CAPTAIN’S DUEL: Sibusiso Vilakazi battles for the ball with Maritzburg United captain Ashley Hartog in a match which saw the Clever Boys create multiple chances but manage to only score a solitary goal. Photo: Luca Kotton

Bidvest Wits beat Maritzburg United by a solitary goal to remain unbeaten in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) at Bidvest Stadium this evening.

The Clever Boys started the match with a number of new players and managed to create multiple scoring opportunities but ended the game with little to show for it apart from the goal of Sthembiso Ngcobo.

The change in formation with no wingers in midfield and two strikers upfront seemed to challenge the home side’s creativity.

Gavin Hunt, Bidvest Wits coach told Wits Vuvuzela after the match: ”To play with two strikers you have to play with no width, so we played with no width today although on Sunday we tried and we just got burnt.”

Phumlani Ntshangase played his first game of the season for the Clever Boys, received the man of the match award along with weighty praise from the coach.

“He was the difference in the team, he was fantastic … I should have put him in a long time ago bit obviously he was suspended in the beginning of the season and now he can come in,” Hunt said.

Cornelis Kwakman, a Wits defender, also played his first game since arriving from the Netherlands and kept a clean sheet for his team, putting himself in strong contention for selection as the team’s main centre back.

Kwakman told Wits Vuvuzela: “The teams performance was very good, if you saw the pitch it was very difficult to play. We had a lot of chances today, I have not seen more chances for the team this whole season.”

The Clever Boys face Orlando Pirates in the second leg of the MTN8 at Orlando Stadium this Saturday with a two goal deficit working against them.

Clever Boys youngster making noise around Europe

WONDER KID: Attacking player Liam Jordan has attracted interest overseas, he arrived back in South Africa this week to continue training with Bidvest Wits first team. Photo: Provided

WONDER KID: Attacking player Liam Jordan has attracted interest overseas, he arrived back in South Africa this week to continue training with Bidvest Wits first team. Photo: Provided

SIXTEEN-year-old Liam Jordan, the youngest player to sign a first team contract in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), shows a maturity beyond his years when he talks about recent personal hardships and how he got to where he is in his career.

Bidvest Wits have invested in Jordan’s future. He is a South African born youngster who played football in New Zealand for most of his life before coming back to Johannesburg from where he hails. Jordan started playing at Edenvale Football Club in the east of Johannesburg at the age of four. His mother and father moved to New Zealand in 2004, and Liam played football in the country for nine years at East Coast Bays, Albany United and Onehunga Sports. He also played at an academy called Wynrs.

The versatile attacking player’s famous father, Keryn Jordan, was a prolific goal scorer and started his career at Manning Rangers, scoring 52 goals in 94 starts for Rangers. He moved to New Zealand to play for Auckland City where he scored 76 goals in 100 games. Despite his goal scoring prowess he only managed one cap for Bafana Bafana in a 2-1 win over Botswana in 2009. Fourteen years to the day, Jordan was diagnosed with cancer and passed away late last year after a long battle with the disease.

“My father taught me everything that I know, about the do’s and don’ts, on and off the field. We had so many one-on-one trainings, tears and laughs, I have lost count but those were the trainings that built me as a player and a person. My father is my inspiration every day to do better and I want to play professionally one day for both of us,” Jordan said.

Jordan recently has played for Brondby, a Danish club which has been linked to Bidvest Wits captain Sibusiso Vilakazi for over a year. Brondby asked Bidvest Wits for five of their youth players to train with them while in Denmark and three of the Clever Boys were given extra attention from the Danish club.

Liam Jordan and Marcelo Mendes stayed on in Europe with Brondby to play another tournament in Holland, where the two boys impressed as the Danish outfit went all the way to the final of the tournament, losing out to Maccabi Tel Aviv.

The third player, Thabang Mufamadi, is expected to join Brondby next week for a period of three months, on a trial basis.

Jordan relished his experience in Europe. “Of course I want to play in Europe one day; whether or not I can stay here, I am not entirely sure.”

Bidvest Wits coach, Gavin Hunt said Jordan had a role to play this season for the Clever Boys and would definitely play.

He arrived back in South Africa this week and has been given time off training to recover after two overseas tournaments with Bidvest Wits and Brondby FC.

Gavin on the hunt for a Clever cup

 

READY FOR ACTION: Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt looks on as his team tackle Platinum Stars in a friendly match at Sturrock Park before the new season.

READY FOR ACTION: Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt looks on as his team tackle Platinum Stars in a friendly match at Sturrock Park before the new season.

Wits attacking ace Sibusiso Vilakazi will be staying with the Clever Boys as coach Gavin Hunt looks to improve on last year’s season with more points and another cup final.

There has been speculation over Clever Boy Vilakazi, last year’s captain and PSL player of the season. Hunt told Wits Vuvuzela that Vilakazi would be at Wits this season unless something came up from overseas.

Hunt said Vilakazi did a great job last season as captain, however he was considering removing him from that leadership role. 

“Maybe we need to free him up a little bit,” Hunt said.

Last season Bidvest Wits finished third in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), reached the final of the Nedbank Cup and qualified to play in Africa.

With many new players coming in Hunt said, “It’s all about me putting the jigsaw together this season but I don’t have to change too much because we did very well last season.”

Hunt has so far signed nine players, with five of them being over the age of 30. “I don’t see age, I see players’ ability. I think all players that we have signed still have legs on them, they have a lot of streetwise, a lot of know-how but we did have a little bit of imbalance with experience last year and I think that cost us the league,” he said.

With goalkeeper Dennis Onyango having returned to Sundowns and Jackson Mabokgwane likely to leave during the new season, Hunt told Wits Vuvuzela he has a bit of a problem in the goalkeeping department.

Rowen Fernandez looks set to make his return to Bidvest Wits this season, after being seen training during the week with the Clever Boys.Hunt would not officially confirm to Wits Vuvuzela that Fernandez was joining the team but said he could add a lot of experience and potentially help Bidvest Wits in the goalkeeping department.

With scoreless draws being a thorn in the Clever Boys’ side last season, Hunt said players such as Henrico Botes and Christopher Katongo coming in would do well this season with other players that can deliver the ball.

He added that the team’s set pieces were not good last season and he was looking to improve this aspect to score more goals.

With the Bidvest under-17 team recently reaching the finals of the Engen Cup, Hunt has signed two youth players from the academy.The duo consists of 15-year-old Liam Jordan and 20-year-old Julian De Freitas.

The Clever Boys’ first official game of the season will take place on August 1 at Bidvest Stadium in a quarter-final clash against Bloemfontein Celtic in the MTN8 competition.

Bidvest Wits goes for a mix of youth and experience in new signings

Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt has opted for a mix of youth and experience in the team's new signings. Photo: Courtesy Bidvest Wits.

Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt has opted for a mix of youth and experience in the team’s new signings. Photo: Bidvest Wits.

Nine new players have joined premier league side Bidvest Wits ahead of the start of the season in August.

Gavin Hunt, Bidvest coach, appears to have gone with a mix of youth and experience, with five of the new signings over 30-years-old.

Speaking to Wits Vuvuzela, Hunt said, “The team was very thin in defence, I lost some defenders last season so I had to replace them and strengthen the squad.”

“With the new guys on board, they bring a lot experience, played a lot games between them, versatile in their positions and that’s why we bought them.”

The experienced players include Platinum Stars striker Henrico Botes, Maritzburg United left-side player Dillon Shepard, Moroko Swallows defensive player Giorgi Nergadze, Zambian Christopher Katongo and Dutch Eredivisie star Kees Kwakman.

Hunt also opted for four young talents with Nedbank Cup young player nominee Vincent Pule And University of Pretoria star Buhle Mkhwanazi.

Thulani Hlatshwayo from Ajax Cape Town and 20-year-old Mthokozisi Msomi from Roses United, also join the squad which finished third in the league last season.

When Hunt was asked if he leans on either youth or experience, he said, “A bit of everything, we have lots of young players in the squad and the new signings were brought in to bring stability and help the young ones come on. The reason we came third was because we lacked experience and the combination of youth plus experience is what’s needed for season.”

Hunt will need the experience of the new signings as the team looks likely to participate in this year’s Confederations Cup based on a decision by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to increase the number of South Africa teams in the competition to four. Bidvest Wits together with Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates qualify for the tournament. 

The Clever Boys will start their new season with a clash against Bloemfontein Celtic on August 1 at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg.

SOCCER: Clever Boys Captain in the running for three PSL awards

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Sibusiso Vilakazi battles away in their Nedbank Cup win over Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: Luca Kotton

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Sibusiso Vilakazi battles away in their Nedbank Cup win over Kaizer Chiefs. Photo: Luca Kotton

Sibusiso Vilakazi could finish this weekend with a cupboard-full of silverware and a cheque for R7-million for his team.

The captain of Bidvest Wits will lead his team in the Nedbank Cup final against Orlando Pirates on Saturday, and on Sunday, could walk away with any of 3 awards at the annual Premier Soccer League (PSL) awards.

The 24-year-old Soweto-born midfielder debuted for Wits in the 2009/2010 season after being groomed by the Bidvest Wits academy.

He has since notched up over 100 first-team appearances and been rewarded with the club’s captaincy and two national team caps for South Africa.

Vilakazi’s leadership saw his team finish third in the PSL this year and he has been nominated for the player of the season, the ABSA premiership players’ player of the season and the Nedbank Cup player of the tournament at the end of season awards.

Overseas target

Vilakazi’s performance has attracted some interest from Brondby in Denmark and the Clever Boys captain may be jetting overseas by the beginning of next season.

According to Vilakazi, he spent a week in Denmark on trial and a transfer there looks likely. Vilakazi has spent the last 5 years of his professional career with the Clever Boys and has no regrets.

“So far it has been great. I have worked through step by step, baby steps as well. I hope I can grow better and better.”

With an exciting weekend ahead for the Clever Boys captain, he said, “I’m hoping it will start with the cup final and we will see what happens with the awards but I’m hoping we lift the trophy.”

The final showdown

The Nedbank Cup final at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, on Saturday afternoon, will be a tightly contested match if the draw in their last meeting is anything to go by. Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt said, “Winning the cup will define if the season is good or bad.”

Vilakazi will no doubt play a vital role in the clash on Saturday afternoon and said, “It comes down to that important day, what happened in the past doesn’t matter, we focus on what’s happening now.”

Vilakazi said that his team deserves at least one trophy for the season. He would be lifting the trophy as captain if they win and he added,” I believe in my team and each and every individual.”

 

SOCCER: The Clever Boys look forward to Nedbank Cup Final

BIDVEST WITS has moved all of its attention to the Nedbank Cup final against Orlando Pirates, after sealing third place in the Premier Soccer League (PSL).

The final will take place on May 17 at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban, after much discussion amongst the Nedbank Cup organising committee and the PSL.
The Clever Boys final showdown against Orlando Pirates will be the biggest match of the season for the Braamfontein-based team, which will be looking to pick up silverware for the first time since 2010. Incidentally, the trophy the team won then was the Nedbank Cup.

Hunt vs Vermezovich

Orlando Pirates are under the reign of their recently appointed coach, Vladimir Vermezovich, who only took charge of the team almost a month after his appointment due to work permit
issues. Vermezovich guided his previous team, Kaizer Chiefs, to two cup finals but never a Nedbank Cup victory.

HEATED AFFAIR: Bidvest Wits players clash with their Orlando Pirates counterparts in the last match between the teams. Photo: Luca Kotton

HEATED AFFAIR: Bidvest Wits players clash with their Orlando Pirates
counterparts in the last match between the teams. Photo: Luca Kotton

The Serbian coach was confident of his team’s victory in the final and said: “It will be a disgrace for a team of Orlando Pirates calibre to go a season without a trophy, so we will have to win this one.”

In contrast, Gavin Hunt, the Bidvest Wits coach has tasted success in the Nedbank Cup with his previous team. Hunt guided Supersport United to a Nedbank Cup victory in 2012.

How the teams face up

In head-to-head statistics, the Buccaneers hold the edge over the Clever Boys as they have won 24 of the teams clashes with their opponents having only won 12. Their last two matches in the current season saw a home win for Orlando Pirates in February and a stalemate at the Bidvest stadium at the end of April. Going on the head-to-head games the outlook wouldn’t be positive for the Clever Boys trophy aspirations but Hunt had
previously told Wits Vuvuzela, “Cup games are completely different to league games, you can’t compare.”

Fringe players get the chance

Wits failed to beat Maritzburg United in their last home game of the season on Tuesday night and Hunt gave many of his fringe players an opportunity to play, making nine changes from the team that won the Nedbank Cup semi-final against Kaizer Chiefs. Hunt said: “I gave players a chance but the players are not good enough, some of them. Some players have been here for two or three years now and they won’t be here next season.”

Who will be missing?

Hunt said he would go back to his “A” team for the Nedbank final.The only big blow for the Clever Boys will be the absence of Papy Faty who is out for nine months after a tackle from Oupa Manyisa in Bidvest Wits’ last home clash against the Buccaneers.

Orlando Pirates may be without striker Lennox Bacela, who injured his ankle in their 2-1 semifinal win over Maritzburg United.

The spectacle

The final in Durban which will see the winning team bagging R7-million in prize money is sure to be a spectacle. PSL chief executive, Brand de Villiers said: “We are planning a spectacular event on May 17 and we urge football fans to purchase their tickets early.”

Danielle van de Merwe, the Bidvest Wits marketing manager, told Wits Vuvuzela: “The club will notify the supporter club members of any travel arrangements made.”

luca@witsvuvuzela.com