Wits will challenge for silverware, says Mabizela
Wits defender Mbulelo Mabizela says the team should challenge for trophies this season, having acquired some experienced players to bolster their youthful squad.
With wholesale changes made to their camp in the last two weeks, the Clever Boys have roped in some seasoned campaigners to bring stability to the squad.
They include former Bafana Bafana captain Aaron Mokoena, fellow defender Thomas Sweswe, and midfielders Tinashe Nengomasha and Matty Pattison.
“We have balance in the team now that we have assembled experience, something that was lacking before,” Mabizela, himself a former Bafana skipper, said on Wednesday.
“I think we should be challenging for some silverware this coming season.” The new players will turn out for the side in the pre-season one-day Gauteng Cup tournament in Atteridgeville on Saturday.
Wits open the tournament against SuperSport United — who failed to pitch for the cup launch — in the morning.
Moroka Swallows and Kaizer Chiefs will meet in the second fixture in the afternoon, and the final between the winners of the two clashes is scheduled for later in the evening.
Mabizela, 32, said he still harboured ambitions of returning to the national set-up after a four-year self-imposed hiatus.
The former Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and Tottenham Hotspur player has had a career dogged by poor discipline and a drug ban that has often overshadowed his talent.
“Playing for the national team goes on performance,” Mabizela said.
“I will leave it to my performance on the field.” Wits assistant coach Eric Tinkler believed new Spanish mentor Antonio Lopez Habas may be on the bench this weekend, but it depended on his work permit, for which he was still waiting.
Habas replaced Roger de Sa, who was sacked after five years at the helm, last week.
“We are awaiting his work permit, and possibly it will be here this week, so he can be there on Saturday,” Tinkler said.
“Otherwise, Habas has been able to train the team, and the players are getting to know him.” Meanwhile, Chiefs’ new coach, Stuart Baxter, said he would use the tournament to gauge his squad ahead of the season.
Chiefs have brought in the likes of Morgan Gould, Eric Mathoho and Kingston Nkhatha during the off-season.
The Glamour Side are rebuilding after a rare trophy-less campaign last season, with Baxter under pressure to return the team to their former glory.
“It won’t mean that if we fail on the weekend then we would have failed for the season,” Baxter said.
“This tournament is about gathering information about the players.
“This is another opportunity to prepare against a good team [Swallows], see players and see where we are now with our preparations.” New Swallows coach Zeca Marques has lofty standards to maintain, having replaced Gordon Igesund, who took over as Bafana Bafana head coach this month after leading the Birds to second place in the Premiership last season.
This is Marques’ second spell with the team, and he was assistant to Igesund in their fairytale run last season.
“This tournament is a perfect time to prepare and also see where we are with our pre-season,” Marques said.
“I want to see the team playing good, attack-minded football and continue from last season.
“We want to bring the fans back to the stadium and be competitive in the league.”