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South African PSL Preview

The MTN8 has given us a taste of what’s to come in the Premier Soccer League 2017/18 season.
The MTN8 has given us a taste of what’s to come in the Premier Soccer League 2017/18 season.
The MTN8 has given us a taste of what’s to come in the Premier Soccer League 2017/18 season with shock results all over the country. The league title race begins this weekend and we have lots to look forward to as Bidvest Wits begin their title defence against Benni McCarthy’s Cape Town City. We also have the Tshwane Derby as Mamelodi Sundowns lock horns with SuperSport United. Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates are involved in tricky encounters with Bloemfontein Celtic and Chippa United respectively. Let’s predict the outcomes and make some money!

Friday 18 August

1/1 Bidvest Wits | Draw 21/10 | Cape Town City 5/2 (20:00)

Off the back of a double-winning campaign and progressing to the MTN8 semi-finals, Wits will be looking to collect as many points as possible very early in the season. The defending champions have now bolstered the double-winning side by signing Steven Pienaar and Daylon Claasen, who played a vital role in helping the team progress to the MTN8 semi-fnals last week. In my view, they’re the strongest squad in the domestic league. Benni McCarthy is playing his first league game as a coach and he goes up against Gavin Hunt, the coach who gave him his professional debut as a player during their time at Seven Stars. Cape Town City managed to grind out a 1-0 victory over Polokwane City in the MTN8 last Saturday despite losing Teko Modise during pre-match warm ups due to a slight niggle. Modise should be back for the league Wits clash to assist Roland Putsche and Lebogang Manyama in midfield. The teams will also meet in the two-legged MTN8 semi-finals and I’m expecting a draw.

Saturday 19 August

13/10 AmaZulu FC | 21/10 | Free State Stars 19/10 (15:00)

Everyone is eager to see if AmaZulu can compete in the elite league after failing to secure promotion from the National First Division on the pitch and decided to buy Thanda Royal Zulu’s PSL status. They have sacked coach Joey Antipas and replaced him with former Platinum Stars coach, Cavin Johnson, who is a seasoned campaigner. Usuthu have also loaned fullback, Thembela Sikhakhane from Orlando Pirates who can play on either flank. Free State Stars only manged to survive the relegation/promotion play-offs last season on goal difference and they have since parted ways with coach Serame Letsoaka and replaced him with former Stellenbosch FC mentor Sammy Troughton. Troughton has made it very clear that he wants to make surviving relegation convincingly his main priority and this is one of those matches you have to win if you don’t want to be under pressure against the big teams. Both teams are currently struggling and I’m expecting a draw here.

7/10 Polokwane City | 24/10 | Baroka FC 7/2 (15:00)

The last campaign saw Polokwane City enjoy one of their best seasons ever, finishing sixth on the log, hence participating in the MTN8. As much as we can praise Luc Eymael for laying a strong foundation, we must also credit Bernard Molekwa for taking the job by the scruff of its neck when internal politics forced Eymael out of the Rise and Shine camp. They lost 1-0 to Cape Town City in the MTN8 on Saturday and the match must have given them an indication of where they need to strengthen ahead of the Limpopo derby. Baroka FC are still in the PSL after winning the promotion/relegation play-offs and they will be looking to avoid finishing below 14th again this season. They have kept the same technical staff they had last season and will be interesting to see how that will help change things. Bakgaga have also lost the services of Mxolisi Kunene who has joined Maritzburg United. In their maiden PSL season, they drew both their league matches against Polokwane City, holding them to a goalless draw away and playing to a 2-2 stalemate at home. Baroka did beat Polokwane 2-0 in the Nedbank Cup two seasons ago and they were still in the NFD then. I think Polokwane will emerge the victors.

17/10 SuperSport United | 21/10 | Mamelodi Sundowns 15/10 (15:00)

SuperSport United go into the Tshwane Derby fresh off a 1-0 victory over Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN8. Matsatsantsa will have Thabo Mnyamane back after being allowed by coach Eric Tinkler one more week to fully recover and Thuso Phala is ready to start as he only came on in the second half against Chiefs due to fitness concerns. That should help the team have proper wing play. The whole country was flabbergasted when Sundowns were knocked out of the MTN8 by Maritzburg United last Sunday, courtesy of Evans Rusike’s solitary goal. The Brazilians seem to struggle against teams that park the bus and they are vulnerable to counter attacks. Their new signings, Oupa Manyisa and George Lebese, did play in the defeat and they seemed to have quickly gelled with their new teammates. SuperSport hasn’t fully adapted to Tinkler’s tactics and Sundowns might exploit that. I’m expecting the Brazilians to triumph.

6/10 Orlando Pirates | 5/2 | Chippa United 9/2 (18:00)

This is Milutin “Micho” Sredojevic’s first competitive match of his second spell in charge of Orlando Pirates after he came in a few weeks ago to replace Kjell Jonevret. The Buccaneers have acquired the services of Thamsanqa Sangweni and Musa Nyatama to try and solve their midfield problems, but on the other hand, their former captain Oupa Manyisa has joined Sundowns.  They have also signed the experienced Wayne Sandilands and sold Brighton Mhlongo to strengthen their goalkeeping department. Midfield maestro, Sangweni, has joined Bucs from Chippa United, while the Chilli Boys have signed Mhlongo from them. Their pre-season has been illuminated by beating Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in the greatly publicised and broadcasted Eastern Cape Premier’s Cup. I foresee both teams scoring but Pirates managing to snatch a narrow victory.

12/10 Ajax Cape Town | 21/10 | Golden Arrows 21/10 (20:15)

After a disappointing season in which they finished 10th and failed to challenge for any major honours, Ajax will be hoping to return to winning ways this season. They have to start competing, but they have lost Mark Mayambela to Chippa United and Bafana Bafana centre-back, Rivaldo Coetzee, who is not fully focused, with negotiations between his agent and Glasgow Celtic officials still ongoing. Arrows were involved in highly emotive game in which two of their players and both the head coach, Clinton Larsen and his assistant, Mandla Ncikazi, got sent off against Wits. That MTN8 clash ended in a 2-2 draw in regulation time and only penalties handed Wits a place in the semi-finals. Arrows are more prepared and are tipped to win.

Sunday 20 August

5/2 Bloemfontein Celtic | 21/10 | Kaizer Chiefs 1/1 (15:00)

Celtic have lost Lyle Lakay to Cape Town City but they have filled his void by signing Given Mashikinya from the very same City. Phunya Sele Sele have finally appointed a new coach, Veselin Jelusic from Serbia who is expected to help the side regain its competitiveness. They have not beaten Chiefs in any competitive match since 2009. Amakhosi played enterprising, exciting and entertaining football in the MTN8 quarter-final against SuperSport United last Saturday, but they still lost the match 1-0 due to their lack of composure in front of goal. Before that clash, they had lost 1-0 to Chippa United in the Eastern Cape Premiers Cup, but AmaKhosi did manage to win the Carling Black Label Cup and the Maize Cup over the pre-season. I’m expecting Chiefs players to redeem themselves by winning this match.

13/10 Platinum Stars | 21/10 | Maritzburg United 2/1 (15:00)

Platinum Stars are one of those teams that go into the new season with a brand new coach in charge of the side as Peter Butler has taken over the reins. Striker, Ndumiso Mabena, has left the team for Bloemfontein Celtic and I think that’s a big blow to the team because he has been one of their key players over the last couple of years. Maritzburg United exceeded everyone’s expectations on Sunday, knocking Sundowns out of the MTN8 and they will be hoping to finish as high as possible on the log this season as well to compete in the prestigious tournament. Fadlu Davids has been given the coaching job permanently after stepping in last season to fill the void left by Ernst Middendorp’s departure to whom he was the assistant. The Team of Choice have also signed experienced defender, Siyanda Xulu, from Kaizer Chiefs. Tough one to call, but I’m leaning towards Maritzburg United due to current form.

TREBLE @ 15/2
Polokwane City Win 7/10
Sundowns Win 15/10
Kaizer Chiefs Win 1/1

Written by Benedict Ngwenya