Wits: We must learn from our mistakes

BidVest Wits coach Roger de Sa set his troops a new shot-term target of nine points from the Students’ next three Absa Premiership matches, starting with their clash against an improved Thanda Royal Zulu (TRZ) at the Milpark Stadium on Wednesday night. Kick-off is at 8pm.

Wits were well beaten 2-0 by a rampant Mamelodi Sundowns, who have climbed to second place, four points behind leaders and defending champions SuperSport United. Their win over the Clever Boys was their fifth in a row and shows new coach Henri Michel is finally making his mark after a poor start when he replaced Trott Moloto last November.

Said De Sa: ”We were beaten by a better side. Sundowns are well organised, have quality players and we simply could not penetrate their defence. But that is history and we have to learn from the mistakes we made and make sure we collect maximum points against Thanda.”

Apart from TRZ, De Sa has targeted wins in their next two fixtures against Maritzburg United (away) and Ajax Cape Town (home). Said the Wits coach: ”This league is so tight that if we collect nine points from the next three matches, then we could be back in the mix.

De Sa is expecting TRZ, who are on 23 points and on the fringe of the relegation zone, to come guns blazing at his side, especially the two players he transferred to TRZ in the January widow, defender Phil Evans and Zambian striker Clifford Mulenga.

Both scored in recent matches for their new club. Evans netted in the 2-2 draw against Golden Arrows in a Durban derby played last Sunday, while Mulenga scored on debut helping TRZ to a shock 3-1 away over SuperSport.

Said De Sa: ”I expect both will want to prove a point to me. It is usually the case when a player comes up against his old club that he raises his game and tries harder. Both left by mutual agreement and there are no hard feelings from me or them.”

De Sa said while his side would fight every second, TRZ were better than their position shows. ”Thanda have some good experienced players. Apart from Evans and Mulenga, they have the likes of Nkosinathi Nhleko, Clement Mazibuko, Peter Ndlovu, Tonic Chabalala, Japie Motale, former Sundowns and Bafana Bafana left back Thabiso Rammile, to name a few of their top players. They are also well organised and structured so we are in for an interesting 90 minutes.”

Wits welcome the return of their experienced Zimbabwean goalkeeper, Energy Murambadoro, who missed the last few games through flu. His deputy, Darren Keet, found the going tough against Sundowns but De Sa, a former Bafana keeper and Bafana goalkeeper coach, said 19-year-old Keet is going through a learning curve.

Said De Sa: ”Keet has tons of potential. He has played four games so far this season. That was four matches more than he expected at the start of the season. He is coming along well and while he made mistakes against Sundowns, I am not blaming him as he will learn. I reckon he has the ability to make the grade as a top-class keeper.”

But still missing from the Wits attack is giant striker Dale Studzinski through injury. ”We miss his bustling presence. He has the ability to worry defenders and get under the noses. I will be happy when he is fit to play again.”

In Wednesday’s other match, Moroka Swallows will be hoping to extend their winning run to six matches when they tackle Bloemfontein Celtic at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium. Kick-off is at 3.30pm.

With Celtic fighting for their lives, the Birds — who have scored back-to-back wins over Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates — face another tough test against a side that has improved and is determined to move away from the relegation zone.

Phunya Sele-Sele coach Owen da Gama has warned he intends turning his home ground into a graveyard for visiting teams. — Sapa

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