01.03.2020 21:29 h

Coach slams Wits players as South African title hopes fade

Multi South African Premiership title-winning coach Gavin Hunt slammed his Bidvest Wits side after a 2-0 loss to SuperSport United this weekend effectively ended their title challenge.

The loss in a moth-infested stadium in northeastern city Mbombela left the Johannesburg club 14 points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs, although they have played two fewer matches.

Former champions Wits have lost form entering the final third of the season, falling to Cape Town City and Maritzburg United and conceding a late equaliser against Highlands Park.

Tebogo Mokoena put SuperSport ahead with a 33rd-minute tap-in and Bradley Grobler converted a penalty one minute from time to seal victory at Mbombela Stadium, a 2010 World Cup venue.

"This performance was unacceptable," said Hunt, who won the Premiership three times in a row with SuperSport before bringing the trophy to Wits for the first time three seasons ago.

"We should have won this match comfortably when you consider four or five good scoring opportunities were squandered in the first quarter alone.

"There are certain individuals I am not happy with -- one keeps giving away goals and another scores once in nearly 30 appearances.

"The fact that we are sixth in the table is nothing short of a miracle given how many chances to score we have wasted this season."

With Orlando Pirates losing 1-0 to arch rivals Kaizer Chiefs Saturday in the Soweto derby, it is hard to imagine the title not being won by Chiefs or defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

Chiefs have 48 points, Sundowns 41 with a game in hand, Pirates 39, SuperSport 37, Maritzburg United 36 and Wits 34.

Twenty-three rounds of the 30 in the Premiership have been staged, but only SuperSport and Maritzburg among the top six have played that number of matches.

Chiefs have nine fixtures remaining, Sundowns 10, Pirates eight and Wits 11 with a record 15 million rand ($960,000/870,000 euros) first prize up for grabs.

At the other end of the table, a multi-club dogfight rages on to avoid relegation and a massive loss in earnings.

Polokwane City climbed two places to 13th by coming from behind to edge fellow battlers Black Leopards 2-1 with Sibusiso Hlubi snatching the 83rd-minute winner.

An Ayanda Nkili own-goal put Leopards ahead just before the hour and Zimbabwean Charlton Mashumba levelled three minutes later.

Baroka, another club based in northern region capital Polokwane, dropped one place to 14th after losing 2-1 at Bloemfontein Celtic.

Mozambican Manuel Kambala equalised for Baroka three minutes into the second half only for prolific scorer Ndumiso Mabena to put Celtic ahead again.

AmaZulu remained bottom under Slovak coach Jozef Vukusic after a 1-0 defeat away to Chippa United in Port Elizabeth.