Absa Premiership: Gameweek 1 Preview

Absa Premiership: Gameweek 1 Preview

In the blink of an eye, Africa’s richest football league returns to our screens after two months of waiting. This season, South African teams will be competing for a whopping R15 million for the first time ever as the prize was increased before the start of the campaign.

During the off-season local fans gathered together in support of the national team which was thoroughly enjoyed as Bafana Bafana made it all the way to the quarter-finals of the 2019 AFCON. We may have enjoyed international football, but it’s not the same as club football, there is just something about club soccer and its rivalries that bring that crazy passion and love for the beautiful game out of all of us. There will be new kids on the block this season as we welcome debutants Stellenbosch, who will look to make their presence felt in the Absa Premiership for the very first time.

Can Mamelodi Sundowns make it three in a row or will Orlando Pirates dethrone them? 

Standings provided by Sofascore LiveScore


Saturday 3 August

Mamelodi Sundowns 1/1 
Draw 2/1 
SuperSport United 3/1 
(15:00)

We begin the new and lucrative campaign with the Tshwane derby at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium. For the first time Mamelodi Sundowns have kept their star players as they usually lose players to overseas teams like they did with Percy Tau, Bongani Zungu and Keagan Dolly. Sundowns’ South American scouts were ones again called for assistance as the Brazilians were looking for a forward after Jeremy Brockie and Jose Ali Meza failed to impress. 

A Uruguayan striker, Mauricio Affonso, was then captured by Masandawana. On the other hand, Kataino Tembo will be looking for a much better season as he finished sixth, which was not so bad considering the fact that it was his first season as head coach. 

Tembo showed he wants to compete this time as he made a few additions whilst keeping key players like Aubrey Modiba, Bradley Grobler and Teboho Mokoena despite tempting offers. The visitors were the last team to beat Sundowns in the league after they came here in April and walked away with maximum points which saw them end their hoodoo. This should be a close encounter and anything can happen in the opening day, especially in a derby. For value – get on SuperSport United to register back-to-back league wins against their neighbours.

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Baroka FC 2/1 
Draw 22/10 
Cape Town City 13/10 
(15:00)

Cape Town City finished fourth in the league last season with a total of 48 points from 30 games. They ended their campaign on a strong note as well, losing once in their last five matches including that famous draw against Orlando Pirates on gameweek 29 which saw Benni McCarthy celebrate like he had won the league. Baroka were lucky to escape relegation after they were two points clear of Free State Stars and that turned out to be one of their best seasons as they were crowned Telkom Knockout Champions and survived the axe. McCarthy is tipped to do well this season by many pundits and fans are already calling for his name in the national team. If he is to one day coach Bafana Bafana then it needs to start here by doing well at club level. Get on Cape Town City to start of a winning note.

Stellenbosch 17/10 
Draw 2/1 
Chippa United 16/10 
(15:00)

It is a historic moment for Stellenbosch who will be playing their first ever Absa Premiership match this Saturday. Their first opposition will be Chippa United, the hosts coming on the back of a brilliant season in the National First Division. The Chilli Boys, who secured 12th position last term, finished the season playing some tight disciplined football under Clinton Larsen which saw him extend his contact. 

The visitors were responsible for taking Kaizer Chiefs out of the top eight after they beat the Amakhosi on the last day of the season. We’ve seen how most teams play during pre-season, but things will be a lot different in a competitive affair. This game can go either way but because of top flight experience, back the Chilli Boys to claim maximum points. 

Orlando Pirates 7/10 
Draw 24/10 
Bloemfontein Celtic 4/1 
(18:00)

There is no doubt that Orlando Pirates walk into the 2019/20 season as the team to beat. The Buccaneers were unlucky in the previous campaign and I expect them to be a lot stronger this time, especially after bossing the transfer window. Nothing has changed in terms of playing staff at the Orlando, with Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic keeping all his star players from last season. 

Ezikamagebhula showed no rustiness in the 2-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs in the Carling Black Label Cup last week. It was a solid display, even without their new signings who couldn’t get much time because of votes. Micho has impressed in the pre-season with this new Pirates team and one can believe this is their year, but the real test starts on Saturday. Orlando Pirates to win at 7/10 is my banker of the card and it should be included it in all multiples.

READ: Writers Tips: Who Will Win The Absa Premiership?

AmaZulu 22/10 
Draw 12/10 
Bidvest Wits 12/10 
(20:15)

Bidvest Wits were the most pleasant surprise package in the previous edition of Absa Premiership, contesting the top spot for a long time but falling off in the late stages of the season. Wits unveiled 10 new players and as usual with Gavin Hunt there weren’t any so-called big names, but there were some interesting additions which included players like Prince Nxumalo, Siyanda Zwane and Sameehg Doutie. After all the talks towards the end of last season about Cavin Johnson leaving Usuthu the club has made it clear that they are not letting him go which I think was a good decision. 

AmaZulu won the inaugural pre-season tournament Msunduzi Cup which had their opponents as guests. Johnson’s men were dominant at home last season which saw them collect 27 points, only Sundowns collected more (28). Because of the impressive record at King Zwelithini and the good pre-season they had, back Usuthu at 22/10.

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Sunday 4 August

Black Leopards 24/10 
Draw 2/1 
Polokwane City 12/10 
(15:00)

The Sunday fixtures include a Limpopo derby which sees Black Leopards host Polokwane City at the Thohoyandou Stadium. Both teams come into this encounter with two new coaches, who both make their debuts in the PSL after Dylan Kerr and Jozef Vukusic parted ways with the Limpopo outfits. Leopards refused to be bullied by big teams in the transfer window for last season’s top scorer Mwape Musonda. 

There were a couple of big acquisitions for Black Leopards during the preparations for this season in the market with one sole purpose – to avoid the relegation. The club signed experienced players like Mogakolodi Ngele, Thuso Phala and Thabo Matlaba. I’m expecting this to be a sold out affair and the Thohoyandou is not a good hunting ground for most teams. Get on Black Leopards to come out tops here at a valuable 24/10.

Highlands Park 5/2 
Draw 24/10 
Kaizer Chiefs 1/1 
(15:00)

Kaizer Chiefs were hoping to start their season off with a win last weekend when they played Orlando Pirates in the Carling Black Label Cup to boost some confidence after disappointing in the Nedbank Cup final. However, the Amakhosi crumbled against the Buccaneers, much to their fans’ disappointment. Even more frustrating is the fact that Chiefs actually had the most clear-cut chances in that game, only to end up losing 2-0 by the time the final whistle blew. 

One of the major factors that contributed a lot to Chiefs’ failure last season was the goalkeeping department. Four keepers were used in the league last season and the fans were not pleased with Bruce Bvuma’s performance in the derby last weekend, with some calling for Daniel Akpeyi to start this weekend. Lazarous Kambole showed some good movements off the ball, but the biggest concern was the amount of chances he missed, although one can forgive him as it was his first game. If the Zambian striker can work on his finishing, then Chiefs will have a good season. Back Amakhosi at even money.

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Golden Arrows 13/10 
Draw 2/1 
Maritzburg United 22/10 
(15:00)

Just like last season these two clubs meet on the opening round but this time it’s Golden Arrows who are at home. Abafana bes’thende will be full of confidence after winning the Premiers Cup convincingly last weekend. Maritzburg United will begin life with their star players like Siphesihle Ndlovu and Fortune Makaringe after the duo joined Orlando Pirates. However, Eric Tinkler has brought on some good players, signing former Bafana Bafana midfielder Daylon Classen, Dan Morgan and Jose Ali Meza. When these sides met last season it took a special moment from a special player Knox Mutizwa who scored one of the best goals. He showed no rustiness during pre-season and if Muthizwa is at his best Arrows will not lose this game. Back the hosts to claim maximum points in the derby. 

TREBLE @ 12/1
Orlando Pirates Win 7/10 
Black Leopards Win 24/10
Golden Arrows Wn 13/10

Written by Banele Pikwa

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