Why every fan should be excited about the Absa Premiership

 Why every fan should be excited about the Absa Premiership

With South Africa’s top-flight finally making its return this weekend, we take a look at why every fan of the Premier Soccer League should be excited.

Of course, there were many question marks over whether the league will start on time or not, but after countless court cases and debates, it seems a decision has been made. As they say, the show must go on!

With plenty to expect from the new signings and new managers, you get the feeling that this will be another unforgettable campaign as the Absa Premiership continues to rank among the best leagues on the continent.




What to expect from new-look Sundowns

With the league just days away, fans and pundits alike don’t have the full picture of what to expect from Mamelodi Sundowns in the upcoming season. They’ve lost two of their key players in Percy Tau and Khama Billiat, while the new signings have only been given a little taste of what it means to represent the 2016 African champions.

This will be Gaston Sirino’s first full season as a Sandawana

It’s been a hot and cold start to the new season so far for Downs, losing a crucial away game against Togo-Port in the CAF Champions League, however, they did bounce back against Kaizer Chiefs in the Shell Helix Ultra Cup, with a relatively second-string side, while they got their chance of revenge against Togo-Port, winning 2-1 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.

Andile Jali has shown glimpses of what he is known for, while Jeremy Brockie has given us hope that he is going to step up and start slotting in the goals on a regular basis – which wouldn’t be a total surprise having shone for Tshwane rivals, SuperSport United, in the past.
But, it all comes down to the new signings, Jose Ali Meza and Toni Silva. They’ve been brought in to replaced Tau and Billiat, and should the foreign pair not live up to expectation at first go, Downs could be in trouble.

“We have lost influential players in Khama and Percy and we can’t fix that in a day of two‚” Mosimane told SowetanLive.

“People have to raise their hands. I want somebody to say I am taking that position of Khama or of Percy. They have the ability. We have players who can do that and I want them to raise their hands. This is an opportunity for those who have been here and saying I am not playing. The spaces are open and let’s see if guys will take the opportunity,” he concluded.

This will be Gaston Sirino’s first full season as a Sandawana, and his link-up play with Themba Zwane could be key to Downs’ chances. The big question mark hovers over the anchoring role in midfield, though, with club-captain, Hlompho Kekana, Tiyani Mabunda, Oupa Manyisa and newly-recruited, Jali, all fighting for two positions.

There’s quality all over the park for Mosimane to choose a starting line-up from. Will he get the right combinations to successfully fill the void left by Tau and Billiat? Time will surely tell.

Kaizer Chiefs now have an X-Factor

The tide has turned in Soweto, with both giants representing the historic township failing to win a major trophy in several years. Kaizer Chiefs will be looking to change that feat as they approach the 2018/19 season with a new-look side.

The fans have somewhat been granted the overhaul that they so dearly wished for in previous years, with the Naturena-based side getting rid of coach, Steve Komphela, as well as the fringe players who failed to make it at one of the biggest clubs in the land.

Brilliant Khuzwayo, Keagan Buchanan, Edmore Chirambadare, William Twala, Sibusiso Khumalo, as well as club-legend, Tsepo Masilela, were all on the chopping block last month as Amakhosi looked to ship out the deadwood and bring new life into the camp.

In doing so, the Glamour Boys snapped up the signing of the season so far, taking full advantage of Billiat’s contract issues at Sundowns, offering the Zimbabwean international a three-year contract with an option of one further year.

Kaizer Chiefs will be looking to change that feat as they approach the 2018/19 season

Now, with arguably the league’s best player in their ranks, Kaizer Chiefs have an X-factor, who could take a game by the scruff of its neck and win the match for his team. For years, Chiefs have needed a player like Billiat, especially with the likes of Siphiwe Tshabalala and many others past their peak.

Giovanni Solinas has indicated that his Kaizer Chiefs team will be much more attacking in comparison to the Amakhosi team we have seen over the last three years. Fluid passing and fast-paced counter-attacks are essential to get the best out of a player like Billiat, and with star-performers like Siphelele Ntshangase, Kabelo Mahlasela and Leonardo Castro, who he has worked with in the past, challenging at the very top seems like something worth achieving this season.

What’s cooking in Mayfair?

For months now, the technical team of Orlando Pirates have stated that they were never really challenging for the title last season, but, in fact, were just preparing for the special project that they have been working on for the coming years.

coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic and Rhulani Mokwena know the importance of making your home ground a fortress
The Buccaneers are now without a trophy for four seasons, but could this be their year? Since the start of 2018, Pirates have only lost twice, both away to Cape Town-based clubs, Ajax and City. They ended the 2017/18 campaign with a stellar home record and it seems that coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic and Rhulani Mokwena know the importance of making your home ground a fortress, while they also look to ‘cook up’ something special in the upcoming season.

“We count ourselves like we are in the kitchen‚ we are cooking‚ and the consumers – our supporters – are waiting for [the meal] to be brought to the table‚” Micho told TimesLive.
“And it will be brought to the table at 7.30pm on August 4. So, until then‚ let them‚ let them [wait],” the Serbian also said.

Orlando Pirates finished runners-up last season to Mamelodi Sundowns and could have ended the campaign off just two points behind Masandawana, had they not withdrawn from their appeal in the Tendai Ndoro case against Ajax Cape Town.

The Sowetan giants also had an overhaul of their own, signing 11 players at once, while also shipping out those who were deemed surplus to requirements by the coach. From the new additions, Khuzwayo stands out as what the Buccaneers have been crying out for since the passing of Senzo Meyiwa.

The Umlazi-born shot-stopper is one of the country’s best in his position, and now that he will be given the platform to showcase his talent on a regular basis, the 28-year-old will not disappoint.

Pirates definitely have the players to conquer Mzansi once again, and with Micho, who has experience across Africa, as well as Mokwena, who knows every little detail and weakness about all of their opponents, you get the feeling that 2018/19 could be the season where Pirates are on top again.

Who can do it on a warm and windy Friday night in Maritzburg?

When you think of teams who have made their home ground a fortress, many names in the Absa Premiership pop up in your head, but none quite like Maritzburg United. The Team of Choice are known for playing most of their home encounters on a Friday night at the fearsome Harry Gwala Stadium, which has become a daunting place to visit for their opposition.

Coach Fadlu Davids has done a remarkable job so far at the helm

Not only is the brand of football that the KZN-based club play frightening, but their 12 000-seater stadium, which is usually jam-packed, can strike fear into those making the trip to Pietermaritzburg.

Coach Fadlu Davids has done a remarkable job so far at the helm, instilling a philosophy which nurtures young talent, while also playing with a fearless mentality, which, so far, none of their supporters, as well as the neutrals, can complain about.

What has boosted their chances of another miraculous campaign is that they haven’t been bullied into selling any of their top players from last season, but instead, have acquired the signings of some talented footballers with Absa Premiership experience.

Buchanan will finally be given a proper chance to shine again, while Denwin Farmer and the experienced Nazeer Allie have also made the switch to Maritzburg.

The new recruits, alongside the up and coming prodigies in Pogiso Sanoka, Fortune Makaringe, Lebohang Maboe and Siphesihle Ndlovu, will make Davids’ charges exciting to watch again, and after missing out on silverware in the final of the Nedbank Cup, perhaps the Team of Choice can go one further this campaign.

Has Benni adopted Mourinho’s ‘second season’ syndrome?

After working under Jose Mourinho and learning a thing or two as a footballer, Cape Town City head coach, Benni McCarthy, will be hoping to achieve what the Portuguese mentor is known for by winning the league title in his second season in charge of a club.

Of course, things didn’t pan out the way Mourinho wanted last term, but perhaps Benni can pick up from where the Manchester United boss left off and continue to dominate in his subsequent season.

There are a lot of similarities between McCarthy and Mourinho
There are a lot of similarities between McCarthy and Mourinho, especially in the way the City coach sets up his team. The Cape-based club recorded eight 1-0 victories in the league last term, and a further seven across all cup competitions.

In their final pre-season clash, a tie against Kaizer Chiefs in the Mpumalanga Cultural Xperience Cup, Cape Town City were back to their usual tricks, serving another 1-0 defeat to Amakhosi.

Peter Leeuwenburgh made his debut in that match after signing a three-year deal with McCarthy’s men. The Dutch goalkeeper was brought in to fill the void left by Shuaib Walters, but after impressing against the Glamour Boys in pre-season, it could be Sage Stephens who is shifted out to the bench.

Despite losing club-captain, Robyn Johannes, to Bidvest Wits, coach Benni seems to have his defence in order. What the 40-year-old must now rely on is getting the best out of Ayanda Patosi and Surprise Ralani, who will be eyeing a successful campaign in his first full season in the Absa Premiership, while the new recruits, Gift Links and Riyaad Norodien, need to make their claim to be given a chance in the starting line-up.

Written by Jesse Nagel