Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt is refusing to blame the “tough and unpleasant” Caf Champions League trip to Angolan giants Primeiro Agosto for Saturday’s 2-0 Premier Soccer League (PSL) defeat by Maritzburg United at FNB Stadium.
Despite returning home victorious, Chiefs complained of their "difficult" three-day stay in Luanda due to the strictness of Angola’s Ministry of Health, which included them being denied training.
Saturday’s game was a contest in which they were expected to spark a resurgence after making history four days earlier by reaching the Champions League group stage for the first time ever.
But they could not translate their Champions League results domestically, as they have now gone for seven games without tasting victory, leaving them just one point better off than basement side Black Leopards.
“If you look at the game there wasn’t much in it. Certainly, we did well in the first half but they got their goal really out of nothing and then obviously they got the second goal. We can’t be happy about our defence, that’s for sure,” Hunt told the media.
“We can’t use that as an excuse about travelling. It wasn’t easy but still, there is no excuse. We have to be better, we had four days [to prepare for Maritzburg]. What we couldn’t do was change the team, that was the big problem. But we can’t use excuses, players have to step up.
“If you look at the game itself, the first goal was from a great ball into the box and I think we should have headed that ball clear. And the second goal was from a thrown in. We had three people around the ball so we have to take responsibility. You can talk all day to stop these things but we have to defend better.”
The Amakhosi coach also said they have to get some league form back before thinking about the Champions League group stage, which includes trips to North and West Africa.
Balancing a schedule between continental fixtures and domestic matches is likely to weigh massively on the shoulders of Chiefs, who have already played 16 games across all competitions this season already.
“The draw in Caf is another thing altogether. We have to try and get our league form back and get better,” said Hunt.
“We obviously are in a battle, we know we have to fight now. Our programme is very difficult with us battling, we have to play every two or three days so the best thing for us is to get away from here as well. We have to be better because our record hasn’t been good.”
Hunt would need all his players to be available and avoid fatigue, although he is not rushing back Samir Nurkovic, who has featured in their last two games as a substitute after recently recovering from injury.
“He is nowhere near fit and we have to get him fit. As I said, we are playing in every two or three days so he has so much time to train,” Hunt revealed about the Serbian forward.
Chiefs now prepare to visit Benni McCarthy's AmaZulu for Wednesday's league encounter.