The greatest league on the African continent returns this weekend as football in Mzansi kicks off for the first time in the new year.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
For many clubs in the DStv Premiership, they’ll be hoping to put their struggles of yesteryear behind them, while for the likes of Mamelodi Sundowns, Swallows FC and Orlando Pirates, they’ll be looking to build on their momentum. Of course, something will have to give in this weekend’s opening tie when Josef Zinnbauer’s Buccaneers travel to Loftus Versfeld to take on last season’s treble winners and current log leaders, Masandawana.
Saturday 2 January
Mamelodi Sundowns 13/10 | Draw 2/1 | Orlando Pirates 22/10 (15:30)
The much-anticipated tie between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates will kick off the new year of DStv Premiership football as the two South African juggernauts look to continue their impressive run of form towards the back end of last year. Sundowns are the current holders of just about every tournament in the country, except the MTN8, where Orlando Pirates ended their six-year trophy draught over Bloemfontein Celtic to give themselves belief of mounting a serious title challenge this year, whilst also earning R8 million. Sundowns haven’t beaten Orlando Pirates since 2017, while many would argue that Pirates haven’t been on a high like this for a long, long while. Very tough to see a loser in this fixture, therefore, I’ll back a draw between the two best teams in the country.
Maritzburg United 2/1 | Draw 2/1 | Bloemfontein Celtic 14/10 (19:00)
Maritzburg United start the new year off as the only team yet to win a game in the DStv Premiership, however, the Team of Choice have shown some signs of improvement under Ernst Middendorp. In both the German’s home games with Maritzburg United, they held Sundowns and Stellenbosch to a draw. Bloemfontein Celtic were unlucky in the final of the MTN8, and shrugged off that defeat with a win over Baroka, while Siwelele also played to a 1-1 draw with Kaizer Chiefs in their last league fixture. Celtic did, however, lose 2-0 to Rivers United in the CAF Confederations Cup. I’m expecting a stalemate in this fixture.
Tuesday 5 January
Stellenbosch 13/10 | Draw 2/1 | Tshakhuma 22/10 (19:00)
Tuesday’s battle between Stellenbosch and Tshakhuma will likely see an attritional battle between two sides who have taken many people by surprise this season. Both teams are currently outside of the top eight, but not by many points as Stellies and Tshakhuma look to continue to silence their doubters. For the hosts, it will be the first of two matches at the Danie Craven Stadium against Limpopo opposition as they face Black Leopards the weekend after this tie. On home soil, Stellies have had a few mixed results, but have kept it tidy in defence, conceding just three times in as many matches. My money is on the Cape side.
TS Galaxy 17/10 | Draw 2/1 | Baroka 16/10 (19:00)
Zipho Dlangalala’s short-term tenure at TS Galaxy begins against Baroka FC at the Mbombela Stadium after the club parted ways with Dan Malesela. The Rockets were on a six-game winless run and had lost three matches in a row. Despite all this, TS Galaxy have stuck to their beliefs and have played the brand of football we’ve become accustomed to. Baroka FC started like a house on fire, as they usually do, but reality has started to kick in for the Limpopo side as they find themselves with just one win from their last six league outings. With new instructions from a new coach, I fancy TS Galaxy to edge Baroka here.
Golden Arrows 17/20 | Draw 22/10 | Black Leopards 33/10 (19:00)
Golden Arrows maintained their impressive unbeaten start to the DStv Premiership when they held Mamelodi Sundowns to a 1-1 draw before the week-long December break. As superb as it may sound, especially for a club like Arrows, from those eight matches, Mandla Ncikazi’s side have drawn six times. Black Leopards start the new year off in the relegation play-off spot as they’ve managed just a single victory from eight games. That sole win for Black Leopards also came way back in November. I’ll back Arrows to bag maximum points.
Swallows FC 37/20 | Draw 2/1 | Cape Town City 15/10 (19:00)
Describing Swallows’ first season back in the big time as superb would be an understatement. The Dube Birds are level with Sundowns at the top of the standings, winning five of their opening eight matches and are still unbeaten this term. Swallows are also yet to concede a goal at Dobsonville Stadium. Cape Town City seem to be finding their rhythm and are currently unbeaten in five league games, winning three times. In that time. This looks like it could be Swallows’ toughest test so far, but it’s a hurdle I expect them to overcome.
Wednesday 6 January
SuperSport United 9/20 | 3/1 | Chippa United 6/1 (19:00)
SuperSport United end the round of matches against Chippa United, who have made headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent weeks. First, they parted ways with Lehlohonolo Seema, then decided to announce Luc Eymael as their head coach, only to receive backlash from the public due to Eymael’s racial comments made while coaching in Tanzania. Now, Chippa United have opted to return to the Dan Malesela route and rehire the former TS Galaxy coach for the umpteenth time. The Chilli Boys’ off-field issues highlight why they’re such a mess on the football pitch as well. SuperSport United are the banker of the week for me here.
TREBLE @ 13/2
Golden Arrows Win 17/20
Swallows Win 37/20
SuperSport United Win 9/20
Written by Jesse Nagel.