Wits face a tough test in Thohoyandou

Bidvest Wits will face a tough examination when they return to Absa Premiership action with a match away to Black Leopards at the Thohoyandou Stadium on Saturday, 1 December 2018.

Kick-off is at 8.15pm CAT.

Leopards have suffered two successive defeats in the league coming into this clash, with the Limpopo club beaten 3-1 at Cape Town City in their last outing. They have changed coaches since, with Dylan Kerr replacing Joel Masutha.

Lidoda Duvha have claimed seven points from five home matches this season, with their last result as hosts a 1-1 draw with Free State Stars in late October.

Wits suffered their third defeat of the season when they were beaten 2-1 at home by Bloemfontein Celtic on November 10. The Johannesburg side has taken just eight points from the last 18 up for grabs.

The Clever Boys are unbeaten away from home this season, taking 11 points from five matches. Their last result on the road was a 1-1 draw at Mamelodi Sundowns in early October.

In head-to-head stats, Leopards and Wits have met in 16 league matches since 2000/01. The Clever Boys have claimed eight wins compared to four for Lidoda Duvha, while four games have been drawn. The Limpopo side has claimed three wins from eight home matches in the rivalry, suffering three defeats in the process.

The teams last met in the top flight league in the 2012/13 season, drawing 2-2 in Johannesburg in the first half of the campaign, before the return game saw Wits claim a 2-0 win in the Limpopo province.

Previous line-ups

Leopards’ line-up from their 3-1 loss to City on November 11: K. Ndlovu, Munyai, Munganga, Katjiukua, Zulu, Tshepe (Mahangawahaya 71’), Nene, T. Mokoena (Mhlongo 77’), Hlongwane, Musonda, Kapinga.

Wits’ line-up from their 1-0 loss to Celtic on November 10: Keet, Mere, Johannes, Mkhwanazi, Hlanti, Alexander, Monare, Domingo, Hotto (Motupa 46’), Dzvukamanja (Weidlich 80’), Murray (Mahcupu 73’).

What the teams are saying

Black Leopards coach Dylan Kerr

"I am excited and scared at the same time," new coach Dylan Kerr said when taking up the job last week. "I can't say much about my ambitions with the club. This is my first day at training. Luckily the game against [Mamelodi] Sundowns [which was scheduled for November 28] has been postponed and this will give me one more week to prepare.”

Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt

“They [Baroka] pretty much had their team together for the last two weeks, and that’s not an excuse from my side because when you have more players in international games you’re going to have them away,” said Hunt in the wake of his side’s loss to Baroka in the Telkom Knockout semifinals.

“So, it is what it is, but they certainly had their team together – you could see. You know, they were waiting for us, which is understandable, and we knew that. But we have to be better. With the players and stature we’ve got, some of them have to be better. I thought our final ball and the cross was poor from players that are big players of ours.”

Black Leopards key players

Mwape Musonda – The Zambian striker was on target in Leopards’ last game, a 3-1 loss at Cape Town City, and he will hope this kick-starts a scoring run which helps to lift his beloved Lidoda Duvha away from the lower reaches of the table.

King Ndlovu – While Leopards will certainly need to be firing at the attacking end of the field, they’ll also hope goalkeeper King Ndlovu is at the top of his game. The 25-year-old was reportedly a transfer target for Wits at the start of the season and he’ll hope to prove that they missed out on a fine shot-stopper.

Bidvest Wits key players

Cole Alexander – Thohoyandou is a notoriously tough place to travel to and Wits will look to their ‘gritty’ players, such as midfielder Cole Alexander, to bring the fight to Black Leopards and help the team bounce back to winning form.

Simon Murray – After the Clever Boys’ attackers disappointed in the loss to Baroka in the Telkom Knockout, Scottish forward Simon Murray may be handed a starting role in the Limpopo province and tasked with terrorising Leopards’ defence.