The 2018 Caf Champions League and Caf Confederation Cup campaigns got underway this past weekend, with two of the four South African clubs in action and picking up vital wins.
Cape Town City travelled to Swaziland on Saturday, and while Young Buffaloes were a closed book to them, Benni McCarthy’s men needed to send a strong message by wining convincingly.
The same can be said about Bidvest Wits, who hosted the Mauritian outfit Pamplemousses in Johannesburg.
Gavin Hunt said in his post-match interviews that the Clever Boys should have won by 10-0, and that in a nutshell, without looking down at the opponents, means that Pamplemousses were not as competitive as some would have expected.
In the early stages of these two continental competitions, PSL teams should be able to lay down the marker, especially with the South African Premier Soccer League ranked among the top leagues in Africa.
The onus is on the majority of SA clubs to prove that PSL is among the best on the continent by at least reaching the group stages with ease.
The next two rounds, provided both Wits and City advance, will be very key in determining whether or not PSL clubs are good enough to go all the way to the group stages.
Of course there’s still SuperSport United (Caf Confederation Cup) and Mamelodi Sundowns (Caf Champions League), who will enter the competitions in the first round after doing so well on the continent in recent years.
Some would forgive City for not acing the test in Swaziland simply because the Caf Confederation Cup has become tougher in recent seasons as some of the top African sides struggle to make it to the continent’s premier club competition, the Caf Champions League.
However, the early stages should be easy enough, especially against teams that are inexperienced on the continental stage. The Citizens are definitely one of those inexperienced teams despite boasting some exciting and experienced players in their current squad.
For McCarthy, this is surely a learning curve, but he can learn a lot from Eric Tinkler, who went all the way to the finals with both Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
But for Hunt, he should know better now, and it is for this reason critics will point to him for Wits’ not-so-convincing win over Pamplemousses.
The South African public would understandably expect a lot from Wits, more so because they have been dominant over the past two seasons in the PSL with three major trophies to their name.
They also have some experienced players in their team, which raises expectations even higher for them to show the rest of African countries why the South African league deserves to be up there with the best.