PSL Week 2 Preview

Written by The Caretaker Coach for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!

By the time the second PSL gameweek kicks off on Tuesday evening, it would have been 25 days since the beginning of the season. The lack of synergy between the league, cup competition, CAF Champions League and internationals means teams not involved in more than one of the above have been battling to keep themselves busy in the month of August. There are obvious positives and negatives to this, with lower league teams still being fresh after only one competitive game, whilst teams like Pirates already have six competitive matches under their belts. This has affected the league to the extent where Ajax Cape Town’s clash with Pirates has been postponed for a second time. Bearing this in mind, as well as some standout performances from the first round of the PSL, means we’re in for some interesting matchups in the midweek.

AmaZulu vs Mpumalanga Black Aces
Usuthu were the upset winners in the first round of fixtures, with an impressive 1-0 away win over Orlando Pirates; the first of its kind in 20 years for the men from Kwa-Zulu Natal. This win, however, highlights my initial concerns. Although Bucs had many chances to draw level and possibly win it, their lack of focus ahead of some big games outside of the league was evident, which dents the value of the feat somewhat. This means that hosting Black Aces in Durban is set to be a tougher task than it first looks. Despite going down at home to the league champions, Aces made Chiefs work hard for their three points. A late appeal against his seemingly ridiculous 12-month ban saw Mabhuti Khenyeza start, and put in a notably passionate performance for Aces. If it weren’t for goalkeeper extraordinaire Itumeleng Khune, he would’ve been on the score sheet that night. Should Aces repeat this performance away on Tuesday night, we could well see the points being shared. AmaZulu have what it takes to win it, but it could well come down to chances being taken and which goalkeeper turns up to save his team. With AmaZulu at 12/10 for the win, I’d rather see myself backing the draw at a very healthy 21/10.

Kaizer Chiefs vs Moroka Swallows
There is no doubt that the AmaKhosi are most definitely back. Their star-studded team are an intimidating bunch for most PSL sides, and with their focus solely on the league for now, I foresee a strong run over the next few weeks. Saturday’s MTN8 Soweto Derby can be neglected in terms of form; I can’t see it being too much of a stumbling block for Chiefs going forward. Moroka Swallows needed an 88th minute winner from Lerato Chabangu to sneak a win at home against a weaker University of Pretoria side earlier this month. Swallows were expected to put in a more dominant display, despite finishing a place lower than AmaTuks last season, and whilst their superior talent shone through in the middle third of the pitch, they lacked the finishing that’s needed to see off a side of Chiefs’ pedigree. You’ll always look to back Chiefs at home, and I don’t see it being any different this time around. The bookies seem to agree, and at 7/10, it looks to be safe a 70% return from your investment. Also look to throw a Chiefs win into multiples as a nice boost to payouts.

Free State Stars vs Maritzburg United
Here are two teams that are capable of anything. That is, unless they’re playing each other. For mid-table sides, their inconsistency always makes a matchup like this a difficult one to call. Free State Stars were at the wrong end of a small hiding from Supersport United on the opening weekend. After taking an early lead, a dominant second half comeback from Matsatsantsa put any early season joys to bed for Stars. Maritzburg, on the other hand, grabbed a regulation win against PSL first timers Polokwane City. Yakubu Mohammed looked good in his first appearance for the club, and is one to watch as the season progresses, but I can’t see them making it two wins from two away in Bethlehem. The Team Of Choice have never beaten FSS in their ten previous meetings, with the total goals tally in favour of the hosts 17-6. Free State Stars are my firm pick for the clash, currently at a healthy 13/10. The draw is at 21/10 for those less confident.

Bidvest Wits vs Golden Arrows
Although both teams are coming off draws in their opening games, last season’s performances could not have been more different. Arrows struggled, eventually escaping relegation, whilst Wits had a stellar run finishing fourth. Wits, however, looked rusty in their opening game. Gavin Hunt has shown his mettle in seasons past and I highly respect his pedigree, but he’s got a lot to prove at Wits. There’s not much in their strongest starting XI to excite me, and I doubt the calibre of players he has can match their showing last season. They did notch up a good 3-0 win in the MTN8 however, albeit to a weak Bloem Celtic side. This was followed on Sunday with a lacklustre semi-final first leg, going down 4-2 to a spirited Platinum Stars side. Golden Arrows are in a similar predicament this season, with no new significant recruitments in place to improve on their poor showing last season. This means this fixture could either be a scrappy affair or an absolute goal fest at both ends. Having said all this, the stats show something more convincing, and really this is what we have to go on in a game of this nature. The last time Arrows beat Wits was back in 2008, and with that in mind you have to look to the home side to keep the unbeaten record going. The draw at 23/10 looks great value, with Wits at 7/10 being too short for my liking.

Mamelodi Sundowns vs Platinum Stars
These are two teams with heaps of potential this season, making this the clash of the gameweek. Downs impressed last time out with a convincing 3-1 win away at Bloem Celtic, never an easy place to play. And with guys like Katlego Mashego and Surprise Moriri not even in the starting XI that day, they seem to have built a great squad during the off-season. Bongani Zungu is also going to be one to watch. With a strike force that strong and guys like Teko Modise controlling the midfield, they’re always going to be a threat. Although Stars played out a tame draw at home, they should bring more to this fixture, and will be looking to Mogakolodi Ngele to get back to last season’s form. They had a convincing 3-0 win against FSS in the MTN8, followed by a come-from-behind 4-2 victory over Wits in the 1st semi final on Sunday. This game will be tighter than the betting suggests, with Downs at evens to win it being the way I’d go, purely based on their opening fixture coupled with the fact that Stars may be a bit fatigued having played a strenuous 90 minutes just three days prior.

Polokwane City vs Bloemfontein Celtic
Celtic have conceded six goals in their opening two fixtures, one in the league against Downs at home, followed by getting knocked out convincingly in the MTN8 to Wits. They’re making their way back to Pretoria to face the newbies, Polokwane City. They lost their opener away to Maritzburg United, but have a great opportunity to assert themselves in top-flight football against what looks like a lacklustre Celtic side this season. A win here would be a huge morale booster, and they’re fortunate to have this fixture so early in the season. The bookies have this just as tight as it suggests, with both sides at 16/10 a win, with the draw at 21/10. Its going to be tough to call this, but I’m putting my neck out and predicting a feverish draw.

Pretoria University vs Supersport United
AmaTuks were a surprise package in their first PSL season, credibly finishing eighth. This snuck them into the MTN8, where they got a rude awakening in the first round, getting overwhelmed by Chiefs 3-0. Supersport United on the other hand had a great preseason, beating a star studded Manchester City followed by a healthy 4-1 win at home to FSS. Although coming short to Pirates on penalties in the MTN8, things could’ve gone either way, and they might well have played in the semi-final last weekend. I can’t see Matsatsantsa struggling in this Pretoria derby. A short bus ride to the game, and there’ll no doubt be enough support there for them to feel almost at home. The bookies agree, pricing them short at 75/100 despite being ‘away’ from home. Look to include in multiples and boost payouts.

The man knows his football, but even he gets it wrong from time to time. Feel free to share your PSL tips and multiples below.