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South African PSL Preview

The festive break is finally over with the second half of the PSL getting underway this weekend.
The festive break is finally over with the second half of the PSL getting underway this weekend.
The second half of the ABSA Premiership gets underway this weekend, after what was hopefully a great festive season for all our readers and football fans across the country. The first half of the campaign didn’t live up to expectation, with plenty matches ending in draws. That’s simply not good enough for one of the best leagues on the continent and hopefully we will see a turnaround.

Along with the return of PSL action comes the transfer window, which is often referred to as ‘silly-season’, with all the merry-go-rounds that happen in the league. Just a few days in and already we have seen some players move to new clubs. But just how well will they cope under new tutelage and the pressure of having to shine in new colours from the get-go? Let’s take a look!

Friday 5 January

18/10 Bidvest Wits | Draw 18/10 | Free State Stars 16/10 (20:00)

The fact that Free State Stars are favourites to win the match away from home against Bidvest Wits tells you how the champions’ season has gone so far. They’re languishing in 16th place, bottom of the pile on just 11 points from 14 matches, winning just twice this campaign. They’ve strengthened their attack by signing Lehlohonolo Majoro, who has three goals in all competitions this season. The club also announced that they have signed Edwin Gyimah and recalled Sifiso Myeni from his loan spell with immediate effect. Wits also announced that Thobani Mncwango, Robyn Johannes & Denis Weidlich will sign from 1 July 2018. Free State Stars have punched above their weight, sitting fifth in the table, level on points with third-placed, Kaizer Chiefs. They ended 2017 on a high by beating Orlando Pirates and will hope to continue their fine form against the champions. It’s tough to see any result here other than a draw.

13/10 Ajax Cape Town | 2/1 | Maritzburg United 21/10 (20:00)

After a disappointing first half of the campaign by Ajax Cape Town, the Urban Warriors decided to give Stanley Menzo the boot, bringing in Muhsin Ertugral for his fourth spell at the club. They’ve also brought in former Orlando Pirates striker, Tendai Ndoro, after failing to get the best out of Sedwyn George and Prince Nxumalo, whose head may be turned amid speculation linking him to bigger clubs. After a brilliant start to the 2017/18 season, Maritzburg United took a huge dip in form before the break, winning just two of their last 12 league encounters. Star-striker, Evans Rusike, isn't quite like the player we saw in the opening weeks of the season, giving Fadlu Davids unnecessary pressure before the start of the new year. With Ertugral at the helm and Ndoro, who was the league’s highest goalscoring foreigner last season, the Urban Warriors are tipped to edge this one.

Saturday 6 January

33/10 Polokwane City | 23/10 | Sundowns 8/10 (15:30)

Polokwane City ended 2017 off with an impressive 1-0 scoreline away to Chippa United. Next up, they face the league-leaders, hoping to leave their dismal home record behind them. Rise And Shine are the only team in the PSL yet to win on home soil, however, with top-scorer, Rodney Ramagalela, who has eight goals to his name, you can expect that run to end shortly. Sundowns have been ruthless away from home this season, winning six of their seven matches, drawing just once. They’ve added Aubrey Ngoma to their attack which already included the likes of Percy Tau and Themba Zwane. Polokwane City caused a massive upset when ‘RamaG’ struck twice against his former club to give Bernard Molekwa’s side the win, however, I don’t see that happening again. Masandawana should come out on top.

19/10 SuperSport United | 19/10 | Kaizer Chiefs 15/10 (18:00)

Eric Tinkler will be disappointed with how his side ended the year off, missing out in the CAF Confederations Cup final and going winless in five ABSA Premiership matches. To make matters worse, Jeremy Brockie’s head may be turned, with the New Zealand striker attracting interest from a number of clubs in the league. With loads of confusion and uncertainty regarding the signing of Leonardo Castro from Sundowns, it’s yet to be understood whether the deal is finalised or not. Nevertheless, Chiefs are still expected to make one of the biggest deals of the window, by bringing in Siphelele Ntshangase from Baroka FC, a player they were previously interested in but failed to cough up the R2.5million fee that Black Leopards asked for. Tinkler has proved to be Kaizer Chiefs’ hoodoo in the past, but I’m expecting 2018 to be the start of something new for Amakhosi. Back Steve Komphela’s men to claim maximum points at the Mbombela Stadium.

18/10 Platinum Stars | 18/10 | Cape Town City 16/10 (20:15)

After a terrible start to the season in which Platinum Stars look destined to go down, Roger De Sa came in and turned the clubs fortune around. They’re still in 14th spot, but Dikwena have become a tough side to beat, with De Sa hoping to get to the 30-point mark, which, in his mind, will secure safety. Cape Town City lost arguably their best player in Aubrey Ngoma, as well as their most experienced man in Lehlohonolo Majoro. Coach Benni McCarthy is working hard on strengthening the team with the Citizens already signing Kwanda Mngonyama and highly-rated Kenyan striker, Masoud Juma. Juma is not expected to make it in time for their clash against Platinum Stars, but City still have plenty of options in attack. I’m backing De Sa’s men to hold City to a stalemate here, priced at 18/10.

11/10 Orlando Pirates | 21/10 | Baroka FC 24/10 (20:15)

Orlando Pirates will be eyeing a return to form when they host Baroka FC at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday. Bucs were disappointing and wasteful in front of goal in the first half of the season and it’s no surprise that they continue to be linked with SuperSport United’s Jeremy Brockie. Baroka look set to lose Siphelele Ntshangase to Chiefs, and it’s still possible that Pirates could recall Gift Motupa from his loan spell at the club. Bakgaga are in desperate need of quality players with recent results not going too kindly in their favour. These sides played out to a 1-1 draw earlier in the season, but I’m backing Pirates to snatch a win here.

Sunday 7 January

14/10 AmaZulu | 19/10 | Chippa United 2/1 (15:30)

AmaZulu suffered their first loss in six games before the festive interval, going down 1-0 away to Cape Town City. Although they were unbeaten for quite some time, a lot of those matches were draws, four of the six to be exact. Teboho Moloi’s Chippa United experienced a slight dip in form to end 2017 off with back-to-back defeats. They still find themselves in the top eight and with Mark Mayambela and new signing, Thabo Rakhale, on the wing, coach Tebza will be confident of maintaining that MTN8 spot. AmaZulu have been tough to beat in Umlazi, so I suggest you take these sides to cancel each other out.

1/1 Bloemfontein Celtic | 22/10 | Golden Arrows 5/2 (15:30)

Bloemfontein Celtic will be hoping to keep up the pressure at the top of the table when they welcome Golden Arrows to the Dr Molemela Stadium. Veselin Jelusic has done a brilliant job at Celtic, who sit sixth on the table, but could move to third, should they win their game in hand. Clinton Larsen’s Golden Arrows sit 10th on the log and find themselves winless in 10 league matches. It is also reported that they could lose their star-man, Kudakwashe Mahachi, to Soweto giants, Orlando Pirates. Mahachi scored from the spot in Arrows’ 1-1 draw with Phunya Sele Sele earlier this season and will be a massive loss to the team. If I had to pick a winner here, it would definitely be Celtic!

TREBLE @ 7/1
Ajax Cape Town Win 13/10
Sundowns Win 8/10
Orlando Pirates Win 11/10

Written by Jesse Nagel. Follow him on Twitter here!