Defending Absa Premiership champions SuperSport United will not win a record fourth successive championship this season and head coach Gavin Hunt has embarked on a rebuilding programme and targeted a title challenge in the 2011/12 season.
With injury-hit United slipping down the table, Hunt has decided to put the brakes on and is busy strengthening his squad for next season.
Hunt is determined to set the record straight when they host title-chasing Orlando Pirates at Atterdigeville’s Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday night (8.15pm) when the PSL season resumes after a short festive-season break.
“We owe Pirates one for that 3-0 defeat they inflicted on us in the Telkom Knockout [at Loftus] earlier this season. The result was not a true reflection, but the defeat still hurts and we are determined to go out and prove our point,” said Hunt on Tuesday.
He also said due to United’s African Champions League commitments, he was unable to bring in replacements at the start of the season.
“It has been a difficult time for the club and myself, but we are getting over that bad period and we will improve.”
Hunt, however, is not making any promises about the top eight. “We are in a rebuilding phase and I am confident I will have a new side soon and go on to win another league title.”
Hunt will be blooding his new signings — former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez and central defender Mario Booysen — against Bucs.
The other good news is the return to action for the first time this season after a lengthy injury of striker Glen Salmon, who is expected to start on the bench against Pirates.
“In rebuilding the squad I need to get a new spine, a goalkeeper, central defender and a striker. Fernandez is a proven quality keeper and he brings his experience, which will add much-needed competition to the goalkeeping position.
“Booysen and Salmon will play key roles as I resurrect the team.”
Wayne Brown, who Hunt signed from English lower league side Bury, is a decent journeyman at best while Hunt admitted he was disappointed with the antics of his former number one keeper Emille Baron.
“He was given every chance but is not in the picture anymore.”
Although Hunt did not elaborate, it is believed Baron’s poor discipline on and off the field has seen him drop out of contention and forced Hunt to sign Fernandez from German side Arminia Bielefeld.
He has also promoted his two under-19 goalkeepers, Sherwyn Naicker and Ronwyn Williams, to the first team squad.
Hunt has replaced his captain and key central defender, Bongani Khumalo — who joined crack English Premiership outfit Tottenham Hotspur this week — with 22-year-old Booysen from Ajax Cape Town.
As part of the deal United midfielder Brent Carelse returns to join his former club Ajax.
“I was keen to keep Carelse as I have worked with him since he was an under-16, but he wanted to return to his home in Cape Town and I could not stand in his way,” said Hunt who believes Booysen, who also had a loan spells with Maritzburg United and Bloemfontein Celtic, will develop into an even better defender than Bafana World Cup star Khumalo.
“Booysen has a tons of potential and he is one of the players I will be building the future of United around.”
Hunt said he was relieved to have veteran Salmon back but added Salmon will not start against Pirates as he is not yet match fit, but said it was good to have him back in the squad. — Sapa