Our football analysts previews the NFD Week One action which kicks off on Saturday 17 August 2019.
The NFD finally has a sponsor again with GladAfrica stepping in to fund the second tier of South African football. There is a prize money of R3-million for first place with the runners-up taking home R1.5-million and the third-placed getting R1-million.
Teams like Ajax Cape Town, Free State Stars, Jomo Cosmos and Cape Umoya United (formerly known as Platinum Stars were in the PSL not so long ago while TS Galaxy defied odds to win the Nedbank Cup last season which will make this one of the most competitive GladAfrica Championship seasons ever! So, what does Gameweek One have in store for us? Let’s find out!
Saturday 17 August
Ajax Cape Town 12/10
Free State Stars 21/10
Ajax missed out on PSL promotional play-offs due to an inferior goal difference and they will be looking to start this season on a high. They have promoted a lot of their youth products which is something they are known for, and as expected, lost one of their products to a PSL team with Kaizer Chiefs snatching defender Yagan Sasman away from the Urban Warriors.
On the other hand, Free State Stars got relegated from the PSL after a shambolic campaign and they will be looking to bounce right back up with an aging side. Having already lost Harris Tchilimbou to Bloemfontein Celtic, Rooi Mahamutsa has been spotted training with Swallows FC. My money is on the hosts.
Real Kings 14/10
This KZN derby has been one-sided since these two sides first met two years ago. Uthongathi have won three of the four encounters with the other one ending with a share of the spoils. The gulf in class between these crosstown rivals was epitomized by the Cane Cutters finishing two spots below the PSL promotional play-off spots and the Magic Boys finishing two spots above the relegation zone last season. Back Uthongathi to collect maximum points.
Cape Umoya United 3/1
Tshakhuma finished third last season but they couldn’t get the better of Maritzburg United to gain PSL promotion via play-offs. Surely the target this season should be to go all the way and spare themselves the trouble of playing extra games at the end of the season.
Dominic Isaacs’ Cape Umoya signed Gregory Roelf from newly-promoted Stellenbosch, former Bloemfontein Celtic striker who has recently been released by TS Galaxy Roggert Nyundu and Bryce Lenders has been promoted from the club’s academy. I foresee Tshakhuma winning at home.
Royal Eagles 1/1
Mbombela United 5/2
Eagles were in the PSL promotional play-offs last season but they alongside Tshakhuma were outclassed by Maritzburg. They have bolstered their side by acquiring the services of Xola Mosiea from Maccabi (soon to be Moroka Swallows) and former Kaizer Chiefs striker Edward Manqele from Tshakhuma. Mbombela will be looking for more consistent performances as they won 12 and lost 10 of their 30 league games last season which really let them down. Back the KZN outfit to emerge the victors at home.
University of Pretoria 11/10
Steenburg United 23/10
AmaTuks have signed veteran striker Collins Mbesuma as they look to maximize their chances of gaining PSL promotion or at least avoid the predicament of fighting relegation which befell them last season at they finished one spot above the drop zone. They face off against a newly-promoted Steenburg United outfit which wants to stamp their authority in the second tier of South African football. I foresee this one ending in a draw.
Sunday 18 August
TS Galaxy 11/10
Jomo Cosmos 23/10
TS Galaxy are now used to the big stage as they beat PSL teams like Golden Arrows and Kaizer Chiefs to be crowned the Nedbank Cup champions. The Rockets were in involved in CAF Confederations Cup action this past weekend where they recorded a 1-0 win over St Louis Suns 1-0.
Jomo Cosmos have signed former Belgium-based midfielder, Phakamani Mngadi, Nigerian striker Chijioke Omeke from Ferroviaro Maputo, as well as Clint Fredericks and Wandile Sicholo from relegated Ubuntu Cape Town to come and rescue them after an indifferent last campaign. Dan “Dance” Malesela is tipped to beat Jomo Sono in Mpumalanga Province.
Richards Bay 1/1
JDR Stars 5/2
Former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Khotso Malope has penned a deal with Richards Bay while newly-promoted JDR Stars have signed former Mamelodi Sundowns striker Thabang Sibanyoni who played for the MDC side. It’s going to be hard for the rookies away from home and my money is on Natal Rich Boyz.
TREBLE @ 9/1
Uthongathi Win 18/10
Royal Eagles Win 1/1
TS Galaxy Win 11/10
Written by @EggsBenedictZA