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Opinion: Pirates to edge Sundowns and Chiefs in exciting title race

Mandla Ncikazi and Gabadinho Mhango

Mamelodi Sundowns will continue being the benchmark in the DStv Premiership this season. There’s no two ways about it.

The Brazilians are blessed with unmatched strength in depth that only clubs in Africa’s premium club competition are capable of competing against, thanks to the foundations laid by former coach Pitso Mosimane that’s now being fine-tuned and taken to the next level with the addition of Namibian spearhead Peter ‘Sha Sha’ Shalulile to the squad last season under the tutelage of ‘The Three Wise Men’. 

In my opinion, Sundowns just aren’t the same force without Shalulile, hypothetically. If ‘Sha Sha’ is unavailable for more than five league games through injury or suspension, that beautiful trophy will likely change hands.

However, with South Africa’s biggest club, Kaizer Chiefs, solely focusing on reclaiming league honours and domestic cups under previous Premiership winning coach Stuart Baxter, I see Amakhosi pushing Masandawana all the way. 

While Sundowns are in the latter stages of the CAF Champions League, Chiefs’ new signings would’ve had enough time to gel as a team and should be playing their best football at the business end of the campaign. Keagan Dolly is a quality footballer and a signing that has reassured the Amakhosi faithful that they mean business as well as retaining the services of forwards Samir Nurkovic and Khama Billiat.

Although, I see a potential dark horse in the form of Cape Town City possibly sitting atop the log for periods of the season and giving the Gauteng teams a run for their money. I’m a massive fan of midfield anchor Thato Mokeke, while the quality of Thabo Nodada is unquestionable as well as my personal favourite South African footballer plying his trade in Mzansi, Mduduzi Mdantsane.

After knocking AmaZulu out of the MTN8 coach Eric Tinkler said, "The one thing I wanted to introduce here at Cape Town City that it’s not always about playing pretty football, sometimes you have to play ugly football to get the result". The problem for City last season was their defence, shore that up and we have an exciting team that are capable to challenge.

Orlando Pirates will be your 2021/22 champions. Josef Zinnbauer has resigned. I’ve always felt that the German coach has been in charge of a talented group of players but has failed to get the best out of them because he simply doesn’t understand local footballers and how to get the best out of them. Why would you play a false-nine system similar to fellow German Jurgen Klopp when you have striker Tshegofatso Mabaso in your ranks? Some of his decisions were baffling.

Mandla Ncikazi was handed over the reins of Golden Arrows when coach Steve Komphela left for Sundowns and he did an amazing job in KZN to finish in fourth position behind Sundowns, AmaZulu and Pirates. If Komphela reunited with Ncikazi at Pirates, the league should be afraid of what the pair could achieve with the financial backing at Orlando. 

“The first discussion I had with any player at the club was with Tyson [Hlatshwayo]. “Great human being, very intelligent. He is not a captain by mistake. History, how he grew up at Ajax… But I can guarantee you one thing, you will see a different Tyson, I can put my head on the block. “Wait for it, if we don’t go 10 games without a changed Tyson, phone me and I owe you something. But I can guarantee you, we will see a different Tyson."

With that type of confidence from Ncikazi, I’m backing the ‘Mighty Buccaneers’ to return to glory days.

Written by Bryan Naicker