Wits head into 2019-20 off the back of a successful campaign last season. A third-place finish saw them qualify for the CAF Confederation Cup, a significant achievement even though they have made no secret of their intent to prioritise the domestic league.
Gavin Hunt, one of the Absa Premiership’s most decorated coaches, will be looking to mastermind his fifth title win and his second at Wits.
Wits lifted the league title in 2016-17, beating Mamelodi Sundowns to the title, but a disastrous campaign followed the previous season as they dropped to 13th. However, they showed their fighting spirit during 2018-19 and were in the title race until the dying moments.
Standing up to an improved Orlando Pirates team, the mega-successful Mamelodi Sundowns and new boys on the block Cape Town City will be a tough test this season. That said, Hunt and his squad are used to those.
He could easily have brimmed with pride at Bidvest Wits’ third-place finish last season, but Hunt instead demonstrated his ambition by insisting they should have done better.
“Disappointed, very disappointed because we know we should’ve won this league, we were top of the log for more than three quarters. We threw it away, we didn’t have good defensive performances in key moments,” Hunt explained to Kick Off after Wits missed out on the title.
“In the first round we had 30 points and I told the guys if we can get another 30 in the second round and reach 60 we can be champions. That was proven right… we should be champions.”
Wits have not signed any true household names, but keep an eye on goalkeeper Brandon Petersen as he looks to establish himself following the departure of former number one shot-stopper Darren Keet.
Thulani Hlatshwayo has been a rock for the Students in defence and the Bafana Bafana captain still has a part to play if, indeed, he stays at the Clever Boys.
Wits FC nicknames
The Students, The Clever Boys.
Wits FC history
Initially formed by the Wits University Student Representative Council in 1921, Bidvest Wits Football Club has turned into a brand in its own right, separate in many ways from university matters. Although they play their home games on the Wits campus, they are very much a professional outfit.
Wits have a long winning history, but not one which matches up to the so-called “big three” of South Africa. Nevertheless, they lifted the Mainstay Cup in 1978 and the BP Top 8 in 1984. The following year, they beat Kaizer Chiefs in the final of the JPS Knockout Cup.
The Students had mixed fortunes in the 1990s, winning the Top 8 and the Coca-Cola Cup in 1995 but narrowly escaping relegation the following year.
The 2000s were a rollercoaster ride too. After back-to-back third place finishes under Roger de Sa in 2003 and 2004, Wits finished bottom of the league in 2005.
De Sa was replaced by Boebie Solomons, who earned promotion for the Clever Boys at the first attempt. After a spell under Eric Tinkler in 2006-07, de Sa returned and guided Wits to the Nedbank Cup in 2010.
Brief spells under Antonio López Habas and Clive Barker followed before Gavin Hunt took charge in 2013. The rest, as they say, is history.
Seeing off Mamelodi Sundowns in the race for the Premiership title in 2017 was a particularly remarkable feat given that Sundowns were African champions at the time. However, it was no fluke as Wits have consistently challenged for the league title under Hunt’s guidance.
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Wits FC 2019-20 squad
Forwards: Elias Pelembe, Simon Murray, Sameegh Doutie, Kobamelo Kodisang, Gift Motupa, Thobani Mncwango, Knox Mutizwa, Fagrie Lakay, Muzomuhle Khanyi
Midfilders: Domingo, Granwald Scott, Thabang Monare, Bantu Mzwakali, Deon Hotto, Cole Alexander, Terrence Dzvukamanja
Defenders: Denis Danso Weidlich, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Edwin Gyimah, Keegan Ritchie, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Siyanda Zwane, Sifiso Hlanti, Robyn Johannes, Lehlohonolo Nonyane, Vuyo Mere
Goalkeepers: Brighton Mhlongo, Ricardo Goss
Wits FC: PSL season 2019-20 fixtures and results
Note: We endeavour to ensure that statistics are as accurate as
possible. However, the nature of record-keeping and South Africa’s Premier
Division allowing for the renaming of a PSL franchise might sometimes lead to
inaccurate figures. We will amend these as soon as they are noted.