Hunt ‘pig sick’ after Santos draw

SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt admitted he was ”pig sick” after his 10-man Absa Premiership defending champions and current log leaders dropped two points when a last gasp goal by Phikolethu Spelman earned second placed Santos a 2-2 draw in a controversial clash played at the Super Stadium on Tuesday night.

Hunt was not upset with his players but at the handling of the match by referee Peter Mabuza.

Mabuza sent off United captain Bongani Khumalo in the 52nd minute for allegedly spitting at Santos goalkeeper Tshepo Motsoeneng — an allegation Hunt strongly denied.

He also took issue with Santos’ opening goal scored by Graham King which, Hunt claimed, was scored from an indirect free kick in the 18th minute.

Last week, at the same venue, United had another defender Tsietsi Mahoa sent off against Orlando Pirates. When Mahoa was red-carded, United were leading 1-0 and went on the win 3-0.

”We seem to play better with 10 men. We are certainly getting enough practice at it. Even down to 10 men against Santos we were comfortable. But one slip and we end up conceding a goal with 30 seconds to go. It was very frustrating. Santos came to defend and frustrate us. I had hoped they would come and try and play. But they did not and, in the end, we battled to break them down. But we should have won but in the end dropped two points.”

But Hunt said that there would be no point reporting the referee, who had a shocker, to the PSL.

”What is the point of that? We drew and that is that. No matter what we say it won’t make any difference. But this type of situation makes us stronger. We are getting good at playing with 10 men and this will stand us in good stead as the season gets tougher. We showed hunger and determination with only 10 men.”

Hunt’s tactics of going for three points despite the handicap of playing with 10 men shows that he is Bafana head coach material.

The sending off was controversial. Motsoeneng, a former United player was the aggressor when he pushed Khumalo in a scuffle and if anybody should have been punished in this incident it was the Santos keeper. What was also strange was that Mabuza ran to his assistant when he was closer to the incident. Why?

Hunt said that he would fine Khumalo, a Bafana Bafana defender, six months wages if he was found guilty of spitting at an opponent.

”Never in a million years would Khumalo do something like that. I know him. But, if he did, I would dock six months wages off him.
That is how confident I am that he was not guilty,” he said.

Hunt will be minus both Khumalo and Mahoa when they face another top side BidVest Wits at Milpark on Saturday night.

”That will be another bun fight. But we are up for the challenge.”

Santos coach Boebie Solomons conceded that Spelman got his side out of jail. Said Solomons: ”We were a bit flat tonight. We did not play as well as we can.”

But he was the first to praise United and Hunt.

”SuperSport are a great side with a top class coach. They are not easy to beat. I am happy to take a point home with me. We had chances in the first half. King missed two easy ones but United also had their opportunities to score.”

Solomons praised his side’s fighting spirit.

”We showed tremendous character out there and never gave up to literally the final whistle and got our reward. This augers well for Santos and we will need all that spirit and character in the second half of the league which is going to be really tough this season.”

Morgan Gould and teenager Thandani Ntshumayelo scored for United.

Of 19-year-old midfielder Ntshumayelo, Hunt said: ”He is a budding talent and took his goal beautifully. He still has a way to go but has got plenty of potential.” — Sapa

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