Newly appointed Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt sees the MTN-8 tournament as an early opportunity for his club to reach a cup final early in the season. Amakhosi will visit their bitter Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates in the first leg of the MTN-8 semi-final at Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The two teams will clash again in the second leg a week later, this time Chiefs hosting Bucs at FNB Stadium next Sunday.
The failure of Chiefs to win a trophy in the past five years is the reason Hunt landed at the club.
The 56-year-old coach comes with a very good track record.
He won three trophies in seven years, including the PSL title at his previous club Bidvest Wits. At SuperSport United, Hunt won three PSL titles in a row including the Nedbank Cup in 2012.
The pressure to deliver will be more at Chiefs, but Hunt has promised to take one step at a time.
“It’s a great opportunity to get yourself in a cup final so early in the season, which I always thinks it helps momentum going forward. The good thing is we’ve got two games in the semi-final, which gives you certain perspective because of the home and away situation. But for us, for me being new at the club, is just trying to find out about the players a little bit more every day, every game.”
Chiefs, who will be the away team this weekend, will fight to score an away goal in Orlando.
“The home and away does make a big difference so obviously, I’m not going to try and set up anything different. I will try and play normal. It’s not like you playing in a foreign country or something like; that we know the conditions, we will try and set it up, we will try obviously to score,” Hunt says.
Hunt is looking forward to feature in his first ever Soweto derby, but his 25-year coaching experience in South African professional footballing ranks should come in handy.
“Looking forward to the game. Will obviously try and get the team right, keep working on the team, try and get us to play what I’m trying to do, trying to instill. But know as said you still stuck with the game but obviously it’s a derby if you look at it no supporters, it makes a huge difference. We will just try continue with our path forward, try and improve the team and try and improve the results that’s all.”
Hunt, who has beaten Pirates before in several cup matches, will be coming up against familiar faces. Six players in the current Pirates squad a former Wits players who played under Hunt.
They include the recently signed Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo and Deon Hotto, as well as Vincent Pule and Ben Motshwari.
“I think they got to be big favourites for the league title this year. They think they really boosted their squad, they’ve got a lot of players that I obviously know and worked with so they’ve got a very good squad of players. What they do and how they do it is not for me to say, I will really concentrate on what we must do. They really have a good squad of players they are much stronger than they were last season so I know what’s ahead of us so we look forward to the game.”
In another semi-final match this weekend, defending champions SuperSport United will host Bloemfontein Celtic at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday. Celtic will host the reverse fixture next Saturday.