Wits were jits

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May 24, 2017
Wits were jits

LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN: Wits celebrate first PSL title

Crucial matches on road to title

Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

That WAS the story of Bidvest Wits.

But last Wednesday they changed their destiny and finally became kings of South Africa.

A 2-0 win over Polokwane City saw them claim the PSL title, on their own patch nogal, with a game to spare.

The Students for years, even in the time of Roger de Sa, were always spoken of as dark horses for the crown.

Last season they were runners-up by a country mile, Mamelodi Sundowns winning the trophy by a whopping 14 points.

This time around they had a few more teams to contend with, as Cape Town City and for some time Kaizer Chiefs, also took turns at the top of the table along with the Brazilians.

But Gavin Hunt and his men held out and prevailed and they are worthy champions.

Let’s look at some of the key games in their run to the title.

The first of those came not in the league but in a cup, the MTN8 final.

Wits thrashed Sundowns 3-0 in the first showdown between the two for the season. I believe that was a psychological victory for them as well.

Following that, the Clever Boys went on a four-match winning streak in the league with wins over Ajax Cape Town, Bloemfontein Celtic, Chippa United and Platinum Stars.

But the wheels came off a bit at the end of November and start of December with a four-match winless run that included defeats to SuperSport United and Cape Town City.

That’s why the win over Free State Stars in the second-last game of the year was so key as it got them back on track.

They started 2017 with a bang, beating Ajax 5-0. Wits went on to score 12 goals in their first three league games of the year, a 2-1 win over Pirates followed by a 5-0 hiding to Baroka.

The only blip on the radar came at Sundowns where they were well and truly beaten 2-0.

But that match did as much for them as the wins, as they were unbeaten for the next two months.

Again they lost to a title rival, SuperSport, and again they bounced back spectacularly with four wins in a row.

That perhaps was the most crucial run of the season for Hunt and company.

All tricky games but while their rivals were dropping points, Wits were clinical, winning by any means possible and, impressively, not even conceding a single goal in those 360 minutes.

The night that showed the football gods were on their side was May 10.

They were walloped 3-1 at their bogey ground Goble Park, while Sundowns were winning and headed for the top of the table.

The players were in tears, Hunt was distraught and it seemed the title was slipping away from them.

But Baroka scored a last-minute penalty against Downs and Wits stayed tops.

I thought they would struggle against Polokwane but with glory in sight, they sewed up their first PSL title, triumphing 2-0 to cue some serious celebrations.

The next challenge for Hunt and Wits now is to make a real fist of it in the African Champions League and challenge Sundowns on the continent.

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