Our football writer previews the opening week of the 2016/17 South African PSL campaign.
The Absa Premiership kicks off in midweek and there are some cracking encounters to look forward to. The biggest match of the round sees last season’s runners-up Bidvest Wits up against Kaizer Chiefs. Reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns are preparing for their CAF Champions League tie with Enyimba and will therefore only take part in the Absa Premiership next month. It promises to be an exciting round of football with some enticing odds on offer.
Tuesday 23 August
31/20 Bidvest Wits | Draw 2/1 | Kaizer Chiefs 33/20
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33/20 Baroka FC | 2/1 | Ajax Cape Town 31/20
Newcomers Baroka FC will begin their life in the top flight against Ajax Cape Town at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium. Last season’s NFD champions recently won the Fame Charity Cup where they beat Black Leopards 1-0 and Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 on penalties in the final, after the game had ended goalless. Bakgaga will be hoping to carry that momentum into the new season and secure maximum points against Ajax. Kgoloko Thobejane’s side have lost just once at home in 2016, winning seven of 11 games in all competitions.
Ajax Cape Town will be hoping to improve on last season’s 10th place, but they’ve lost some influential personnel with Abbubaker Mobara and Riyaad Norodien jumping ship to Orlando Pirates. The signings of Joaquim Lupeta, Erick Chipeta, Keoropetse Molete and Roscoe Pietersen hardly get the pulse racing. Baroka FC are high on confidence and are tipped to oust their opponents.
11/10 Chippa United | 22/10 | Free State Stars 22/10
Chippa United finished the 2015/16 season in sixth place on the log and subsequently secured a spot in the MTN8 for the very first time. They finished the campaign with a five-game unbeaten run where they beat Platinum Stars, Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs. Dan Malesela and his troops will be hoping to build on last season’s success and will look to hit the ground running early. The Chilli Boys won nine from 15 home matches last season, including a 2-0 win over Ea Lla Koto.
Free State Stars, who finished 12th on the log last season, were close to selling their franchise to Moroka Swallows, but the deal fell through after the buyers failed to satisfy all the requirements set out by the league. Stars had already told their players that they would be relocating to Johannesburg and ended up selling their key players. Lucky Mohomi was signed by Mamelodi Sundowns, while Justice Chabalala, Ayanda Nkosi and Sello Japhta were snapped up by Orlando Pirates. Chippa United are tipped confidently at 11/10.
12/10 Cape Town City | 21/10 | Polokwane City 21/10
John Comitis bought the franchise of last season’s fourth-placed finishers Mpumalanga Black Aces and relocated the club to the Mother City under the name Cape Town City FC. Comitis has appointed Eric Tinkler as coach and the club have made a host of new signings, including experienced striker Lehlohonolo Majoro from Orlando Pirates.
Polokwane City finished 13th on the log last season and drew their last five games in the PSL. There has been a lot of changes at AmaTuks. City have brought in a new coach – Luc Eymael – and they have also raided the market. Former Sundowns striker Rodney Ramagalela headlines City’s signings. Walter Maponyane has also joined from Chippa United, while Cole Alexander has left to join SuperSport United. A tight affair is expected with the draw tipped at 21/10.
Wednesday 24 August
15/20 Orlando Pirates | 23/10 | Golden Arrows 7/2
The Buccaneers will hope to continue their dominance over Golden Arrows when the sides clash at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday. Pirates have won 12 of their last 14 meetings against the Durban-based outfit and are favourites to take maximum points. Muhsin Ertugral, who has replaced Eric Tinkler, will aim to improve last season’s seventh place finish. Pirates have raided Ajax Cape Town for Abbubaker Mobara and Riyaad Norodien; Baroka FC for Thabiso Kutumela and Donald Mokondelela; and Free State Stars for Justice Chabalala, Ayanda Nkosi and Sello Japhta.
Having missed out on a top eight spot following their return to the top flight last season, Golden Arrows have strengthened their squad with Clinton Larsen raiding his former side Celtic for familiar faces such as Lerato Lamola and Wayde Jooste. They look well prepared for the new season and will be very tough to beat. However, Pirates should have too much quality for them and should secure maximum points.
17/20 Bloemfontein Celtic | 23/10 | Maritzburg United 28/10
Bloemfontein Celtic, who finished 11th on the log last season, will host last season’s PSL survivors Maritzburg United. Phunya Sele Sele have managed just one win in their last 13 meetings against the Team of Choice, drawing seven times. Serame Letsoaka has been very active in the transfer market, recruiting the likes of Mthokozisi Dube, Cheslyn Jampies, Deon Hotto, Atusaye Nyondo, Mpho Maruping, Sibusiso Mxoyana, Tlou Molekwane and Khethokwakhe Masuku.
Maritzburg United will be hoping for a better start after their first win in the 2015/16 season came in week 10. Ernst Middendorp has done a fine job in strengthening the squad. Andrea Fileccia, Bevan Fransman, Bryce Moon and Themba Shabalala are some of the new players joining the Pietermaritzburg outfit. A close encounter is expected with the draw looking likely at 23/10.
27/20 Platinum Stars | 22/10 | SuperSport United 18/10
Platinum Stars will look to build on an impressive campaign that saw the club secure third place and qualify for the CAF Confederations Cup. Dikwena were solid at home, winning nine from their 15 games last season, with two draws and four losses. Stars have lost a number of experienced players‚ such as defender Thabiso Semenya‚ midfielders Letladi Madubanya, Sibusiso Hadebe and striker Eleazar Rodgers. This season will be about building a new team and Cavin Johnson has shown faith in the youngsters by promoting them from the youth development.
Stuart Baxter will be confident of turning SuperSport United into title contenders in his first full season. Matsatsantsa scraped a top eight finish last season but managed to win the Nedbank Cup, beating Pirates 3-2 in the final. Baxter will be hoping to build on that success and looking at the signings he’s made, SuperSport could end up challenging for league honours. Matsatsantsa have recruited stars such as Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Onismor Bhasera and Thabo Mnyamane, while former Wits goalkeeping coach, Andre Arendse, has joined Baxter’s technical team. These sides have played to quite a few draws in recent meetings and are tipped to cancel each other out.
Written by Doctor’s Orders @Hollywoodbets