South African NFD: Gameweek 1 Preview

South African NFD: Gameweek 1 Preview and betting tips

This is one of the most fascinating NFD seasons ever with the likes of Ajax Cape Town and Cape Umoya United formerly known as Platinum Stars competing in the second tier. TS Galaxy, owned by player agent, Tim Sukazi, will be looking to stamp their authority after purchasing Cape Town All Stars’ status. New kids on the block, TS Sporting recently unveiled Benson Mhlongo as their head coach and other rookies, in the shape of Maccabi boast players with Absa Premiership experience in the likes of Collins Mbesuma and Edmore Chirambadare. Here are my betting tips for the first gameweek:

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Saturday 18 August

Real Kings 12/10 
Draw 2/1 
Witbank Spurs 22/10 
(15:00)

Real Kings narrowly-missed out on an Absa Premiership promotional play-off spot last season after finishing fifth on the log and they will be looking to improve their position. They have bolstered the side by signing Papy Faty whose career was derailed by a heart condition two years ago when he was in fine form at Bidvest Wits. What makes the fixture interesting is the fact that the two teams involved finished level on points last season. In terms of head to head record, Witbank Spurs picked up four points against Kings. I’m tipping the home side to win this time due to an improved side.

Royal Eagles 14/10 
Draw 19/10 
Stellenbosch 19/10 
(15:00)

After a shambolic display last season, Royal Eagles have gone berserk in the transfer market. Firstly, they roped in Golden Arrows and Fulham legend, Kagiso Dikgacoi as their assistant coach. In terms of playing personnel, they’ve signed Anthony Gordinho and Lungelo Dlamini on loan from Bidvest Wits and AmaZulu respectively, and added Bongani Chikila from EC Bees, as well as Lesvin Stoffels, Strydom Wambi, Khanyisa Mayo and Mpendulo Dlamini to their squad. Steve Barker’s Stellenbosch have completed the signing of Orlando Pirates youngster, Lerato Lepasa on loan. I foresee the overhaul troubling Eagles in the first couple of games, hence why I’m backing Stellies.

Uthongathi 14/10 
Draw 19/10 
Tshakhuma TM 19/10 
(15:00)

After a tough first season in the second tier of South African football, Uthongathi have gone for a massive overhaul and signed 12 players. Newly-appointed coach, Johnny Ferreira and his assistant Pitso Dladla had the whole pre-season to assess their team. From a Tshakhuma perspective, they have appointed Kaizer Chiefs legend, David Mathebula as their assistant coach. Last season they finished sixth and this season they will fancy their chances of fighting for promotion. I think the Limpopo outfit will be too strong for the Cane Cutters.

Maccabi 13/10 
Draw 2/1 
TS Sporting 2/1 
(15:00)

Maccabi made headlines when they brushed teams aside in the NFD promotional play-offs and Collins Mbesuma’s experience gives them that extra bit of cutting edge in finishing. They have signed another former Kaizer Chiefs player in Edmore Chirambadare which is a statement of intent. They play another newly-promoted team in TS Sporting which has recently appointed for Orlando Pirates assistant coach, Benson Mhlongo, as their assistant coach. This will be a tight affair and I’m predicting a share of the spoils.

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Sunday 19 August 

University of Pretoria 12/10 
Draw 2/1 
Mbombela United 22/10 
(15:00)

University of Pretoria have been stuck in the NFD longer than anyone expected and in reaction to that they’ve decided to part ways with Shaun Bartlett and appointed Evangelos Vellios as their interim head coach. Mbombela have signed striker, Lucky Nguzana, who was released by Baroka during pre-season. They’ve had a couple of high-profile friendlies as they faced TS Sporting in a curtain raiser for Kazier Chiefs and Cape Town City’s Mpumalanga Cultural Experience Cup. I think this match will end in a draw.

Jomo Cosmos 15/10 
Draw 2/1 
Ajax Cape Town 17/10 
(15:00)

Cosmos has been rocked by player payment scandals with Clifford Mulenga going public about the issue, saying he’s owed nine months in wages. Jomo Sono admitted that he owed players salaries, however, he also said that he owed them for only two months because the team stayed longer in the NFD than he expected and most of his players were on Absa Premiership salaries. That resulted in the team releasing 28 players and looking for cheaper options. Ajax Cape Town got relegated after being docked points for fielding an ineligible player and despite keeping hold of a bulk of their players, they’ve lost the services of their captain, Mosa Lebusa, who joined big-spending Mamelodi Sundowns. I’m backing Ajax Cape Town here.

TS Galaxy 8/10  
Draw 18/10 
Cape Umoya United 16/10 
(15:00)

TS Galaxy purchased the status of Cape Town All Stars and relocated to Mpumalanga Province. They have appointed former Mbombela United mentor Vusi Mkhatshwa as their head coach and Muisi Ajao as his assistant. Former Polokwane City defender, Mfundo Khuzwayo, will captain the side. They’ve also signed former Kaizer Chiefs keeper Luthando Sixhaso and ex-Chippa striker Sizwe Mdlinzo. Roger De Sa’s Cape Umoya United changed their former name Platinum Stars after getting relegated from the Absa Premiership. They have signed utility player, Roscoe Pietersen, who has worked with De Sa at Ajax Cape Town. I’m backing Umoya due to top-flight experience.

Richards Bay 11/10  
Draw 21/10 
Ubuntu Cape Town 23/10 
(15:00)

These two teams narrowly-avoided relegation last week with Richards Bay managing to finish two points above the drop zone and Ubuntu Cape Town surviving only due to superior goal difference. Richards Bay showed some signs of stability in the KZN Premiers Cup, only losing 1-0 to AmaZulu in the seven-team tournament. Ubuntu coach Casey Prince was delighted at signing midfielder Siphelele Luthuli from Highlands Park who gained Absa Premiership promotion. "He knows how to win this league. We're confident he'll be a big contributor for us," Prince said. A draw is on the cards.

TREBLE @ 14/1
Real Kings Win 12/10
Ajax Cape Town Win 17/10 
Cape Umoya United Win 16/10

Written by Benedict Ngwenya

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