Gavin Hunt. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEFTY SHIVAMBU
Gavin Hunt. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/LEFTY SHIVAMBU

Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt is pleased to have Willard Katsande and Lebogang Manyama back from suspension‚ and Siphelele Ntshangase back from injury‚ for Amakhosi’s Premiership opener against Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday.

If four-time league winner Hunt has relished challenges in his career‚ the meeting at FNB Stadium against champions Sundowns‚ who pipped Chiefs to the 2019-20 title on the final day of the season‚ certainly presents one.

Chiefs got off to a decent start under Hunt in their MTN8 quarterfinal against Maritzburg United on Sunday. Having been fortunate not to be more than a goal down at half time‚ Amakhosi showed character‚ rallied and found a far better structure in the second half to run out 2-1 winners.

Hunt is happy to have his key midfielders Manyama and Katsande‚ and the experience they bring‚ back against Sundowns‚ and the skilful Ntshangase as a further option.

“We’ll make a final call tomorrow on the team‚ and who’s going to play on Saturday. But it certainly does add a bit more to the strength and depth for the squad,” Hunt said on Thursday.

The winning start against Maritzburg was just what Hunt needed in his first match as coach of Chiefs.

In contrast‚ Sundowns’ 1-0 MTN8 defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday leaves Downs’ new coaching trio of Manqoba Mngqithi‚ Rhulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela with something to prove against Chiefs.

Hunt said the arrival of Komphela to work alongside Mngqithi and Mokwena has strengthened the Brazilians.

The defeat to Celtic revealed little of the type of form the Brazilians will be in at the start of the new campaign, he said.

“It’s way too early. They’ve got a helluva squad. They’ve retained everybody and added. So we are under no illusions that it’s going to be a very tough game for us on Saturday.”

Hunt did not want to be drawn on his view of Sundowns’ coaching structure to replace Pitso Mosimane.

Downs initially promoted Mosimane’s assistants Mngqithi and Mokwena as co-coaches‚ then added Komphela from Golden Arrows as a third “senior coach”.

“I don’t really like to comment on those types of things‚” Hunt said. “It’s our players versus their players. Yes‚ we are the technical part of the team, but if anything I think they’ve maybe strengthened their technical department.

“You can’t judge people on one game. But we’ll see how the season pans out.”