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ABSA Premiership Outright Preview

South African PSL
The new PSL campaign is just around the corner and we predict how the season will pan out
Last season’s contest was a very wide one towards the end of the season with four teams in the running for top honours and Bidvest Wits ended up clinching the title with a match to spare after Mamelodi Sundowns stumbled in their third and second-to-last game. This is potentially another tightly contested one with all big teams making radical changes to equip themselves for stern tests ahead. This is how I think the season will pan out:

To Win Outright
Mamelodi Sundowns 2/1 | Bidvest Wits 4/1 | Kaizer Chiefs 4/1 | Orlando Pirates 7/1 | SuperSport United 8/1 | Cape Town City 14/1


Bidvest Wits – 4/1

Alongside Kaizer Chiefs, Bidvest Wits are priced as second favourites to Sundowns but I think they are the best team in the league and they should be able to successfully defend their title. Their coach, Gavin Hunt, has won four league titles with two different clubs and he’s the most successful of all the coaches who are currently in the PSL, in terms of winning the contest.

The Clever Boys have managed to keep a bulk of players who helped them win the league and cup double last season. Defender of the Season and Bafana Bafana captain, Thulani Hlatshwayo, has formed a solid centre-back pairing with Buhle Mkhwanazi. The midfield comprises of quality players like Xola Mlambo, PSL Midfielder of the Season nominee, Thabang Monare, and six-time league champion, Daine Klate.

They’re dangerous on the wings with Elias Pelembe and Gabadinho Mhango offering a great deal of creativity in wide areas assisted by full-backs Nazeer Allie and Sifiso Hlanti. Over and above that, the team has signed former Bafana Bafana and Sunderland midfielder Steven Pienaar as well as Daylon Claasen from 1860 Munich. PSL Young Player of the Season, Siphelele Ntshanagse, is a marvel to watch and his goalscoring abilities have helped the team in times of need.

If you have those players on the pitch and still have Ben Motshwari, Bongani Khumalo, Sifiso Myeni, Siboniso Gaxa, Moeneeb Josephs and Granwald Scott on the bench, it really shows that you’ve got sufficient cover in almost every position. On paper, this team should not lose a single game in the upcoming season.

The Challengers

Mamelodi Sundowns – 2/1

The Brazilians are the only team that can give Wits a serious challenge or even finish above them. The only thing that has resulted in them not winning a single domestic trophy last season is the fact that they tend to focus too much on the CAF Champions League which they want to defend so badly. It has really tampered with the coach’s plans because players suffer fatigue and others get injured.

Pitso Mosimane has bolstered the midfield by signing Oupa Manyisa from Orlando Pirates and that should help decrease the workload on Hlompho Kekana and Tiyani Mabunda. Yannick Zakri has also found his scoring boots and having a striker of his physique and abilities leading the attack gives the team different dimensions upfront.

Themba “Mshishi” Zwane is in good form and finished last season on high, earning a starting berth in the national team. Mshishi forms lethal a lethal combination with Percy Tau and Khama Billiat which makes defending against Sundowns a nightmare. The only player who hasn’t really stepped up to the plate is Sibusiso Vilakazi, who has fallen down the pecking order.

Mosimane likes to defend with a right-footed and a left-footed centre-back and Ricardo Nascimento’s injury has really dealt him a terrible blow, meaning he will have to settle for Thabo Nthethe and Wayne Arendse at the heart of his defence who are both right footers, and truth be told, they are both too slow.

Kaizer Chiefs – 4/1

This has been one of the best performing teams in the domestic league but their lack of sharpness in front of goals has let them down. Gustavo Paez showed us a taste of what he can offer towards the end of last season and during the current pre-season. His partnership with Bernard Parker is coming alright and many defences are going to battle keeping them at bay.

They have signed Bhongolwethu Jayiya to give them that extra edge out on the right wing and we saw what he is capable of during Cape Town City’s Cinderella season. For me, George Maluleka and Tshepo Masilela haven’t pulled their weight over the past two seasons and that has contributed towards the team’s downward spiral.

Striker, Ryan Moon, is currently on song and he has also featured in Stuart Baxter’s second string Bafana Bafana squad where his scoring form has continued. Chiefs will really put up a good fight this season, but it won’t be enough to clinch the title.

Written by Benedict Ngwenya