Bidvest Wits season preview

Overview: The Clever Boys claimed their maiden Premiership title under the guidance of head coach Gavin Hunt last season and will be hoping to show it’s only the beginning of their ambitions as a club.

Mamelodi Sundowns were the dominant force in South African football in the 2015/16 season, running away with the league title and clinching the CAF Champions League, but Hunt’s experience of winning the Premiership showed as he lead Wits to the silverware with a game to spare.

Smart decision-making in the transfer market gave Hunt a fighting chance. Despite allowing star player Sibusiso Vilakazi to join title rivals Sundowns, Hunt’s side performed exceptionally well with new signings Cuthbert Malajila (loan) and Gabadinho Mhanhgo contributing with goals and playing in the majority of league games.

The new campaign will, however, challenge Wits’ resolve as the true test of champions is how well they defend their crown.

Players to watch: A significant coup for Wits in the transfer market last month was the addition of South African legend Steven Pienaar, who signed on after leaving relegated Premier League side Sunderland. The midfielder is in the twilight of his career at 35, but will still provide a big boost to the team in terms of leadership and experience, and Hunt’s man management should be able to bring out the best in the former Everton star.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Wits will be hoping that wonderkid Phakamani Mahlambi continues his development. The 18-year-old scored six and assisted in seven Premiership goals last season and could enjoy another successful campaign if he continues improving.

New Signings: Aside from Pienaar, Hunt has brought in even more experience from abroad by signing winger Daylon Claasen from 1860 Munchen. Klaasen has spent the last three years in Germany and should be hitting his peak this season at the age of 27. In defence, Wits have also strengthened by bringing in Thato Thlone from Free State Stars. The left-back is an experienced Premiership defender and made 24 appearances for Ea Lla Koto last term.