United on the mend
Johannesburg - Defending Absa Premiership champions SuperSport United, are on the mend after picking up four points from their last two matches, but coach Gavin Hunt is not getting carried away.
Speaking after his side had edged out Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 in a hard fought league clash at Atterdigevilles Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday Hunt said they were not out of the woods yet.
"We have not yet turned the corner on a slow start to the season but this was an important three points for me. We played well in the first half, then had to fight and defend as though our lives depended on it and to the players credit, we came through a tough battle with three vital points."
After losing 3-0 in the Telkom Knockout quarter-finals to Orlando Pirates last weekend, Hunts side started to pick up the pieces last Wednesday when they drew 2-2 against Knockout semi-finalists Martizburg United in Pietermaritzburg, and Sunday produced a welcome win.
They now are on 11 points after eight matches, seven behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns who were beaten 1-0 at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Sunday.
Hunt said he could not wait until the January transfer window to bring in new blood. "I need central defenders and strikers and I have to replace my captain and centre back Bongani Khumalo who will be joining Spurs (English Premiership side Tottenham Hotspur) in January.
"I was looking at the stands today(Sunday) and we have virtually a full team injured and watching the game."
But Hunt said the club management had not indicated whether he could spend the estimated R18 million United will receive form Spurts for the 23-year-old Khumalo on new players.
"Nothing has been discussed but we have to buy new players," said Hunt.
"The problem in South Africa is the transfer market is inflated, so I will be looking elsewhere."
United utility player Bradley Carnell, who played a storming match in midfield, said he hoped the four points s would help the side turn the corner. "We showed a lot of character and fighting spirit against both Martizburg and Celtic. The four points have boosted the players and now we have a week off to consolidate and regroup further."
There will be no league matches this weekend due to the Knockout semi-finals. Maritzburg play Pirates at Chatsworth Stadium on Sunday while Kaizer chiefs face Santos at Polokwanes Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday night (20:15).
Celtic coach Clinton Larsen was disappointed. His side almost snatched a draw at the death but were denied by a goal line clearance from United skipper Ricardo Katza who cleared Siphelele Mthembus goal bound shot in injury time.
"I was unhappy with the way we started and allowed the champions to dictate. But once we got our act together in the second half there was only one team in it and I am disappointed we did not get at least a draw," said Larson.