Thabang Monare has been a vital cog for Bidvest Wits this season‚ but that shouldn’t be surprising given the role he played when the Clever Boys won the league for the first time in their history in the season before last.
What is surprising is that Monare is now one of the few remaining members of the 2016-17 league-winning midfield players at Wits.
Ben Motswari‚ Vincent Pule and Xola Mlambo have all gone to Orlando Pirates while Daine Klate was snapped up by Chippa United when his contract was not renewed; and Phumlani Ntshangase went to SuperSport United after struggling at Wits last season.
It would seem that Monare is one of the few who were understanding of coach Gavin Hunt’s attempt to overhaul the team last season.
The changes that Hunt made didn’t yield positive results as the team struggled to defend the league title as they ended up finishing outside the top eight. The only consolation for Hunt’s team was winning the Telkom Knockout last season.
Like the others who jumped ship‚ the talented Monare could have been tempted to leave but his decision to stick around paid off with Hunt deciding to build the team around him and Cole Alexander in the Wits engine room this season.
“I’m happier for the team than myself‚” said Monare of role and time he’s been given on the field this season.
“We have the energy and the squad to keep going. We’re just taking it one game at a time and we will see what it will give us.”
Monare’s team is currently on top of the Absa Premiership log but as they switch their attention to defending the Telkom Knockout‚ he spoke of the importance of not underestimating their first round opponents‚ Free State Stars‚ who they visit in Goble Park on Saturday.
“What’s life without pressure‚” said Monare of the expectations to defend the cup they won after beating Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 in KwaMashu last season.
“Obviously every game we are going to play now‚ we are a team that everyone wants to beat as far as the TKO is concerned.
“There is a little bit of pressure but we’ll try to put that aside.
“We just want to take one game at a time and apply the same formation and work hard as a team.”
On Stars and the challenge they can pose to Wits in the last-16‚ Monare said: “They are a team who are willing to fight.
“We’ve been struggling as a team in that place [Bethlehem] but we know what we need to do to overcome them.
“It’s going to be a fight so we are preparing for that and we are ready.”
Telkom Knockout last-16:
- Free State Stars v Bidvest Wits (Goble Park‚ 3.30pm)
- Baroka FC v Lamontville Golden Arrows (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 8.15pm)
- Mamelodi Sundowns v Bloemfontein Celtic (Lucas Moripe Stadium‚ 6pm)
- Orlando Pirates v Chippa United (Orlando Stadium‚ 8.15pm)
- Maritzburg United v Highlands Park (Harry Gwala Stadium‚ 8.15pm)
- Kaizer Chiefs v Black Leopards (FNB Stadium‚ 3.30pm)
- Polokwane City v SuperSport United (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium‚ 3.30pm)