LET THE FUN BE­GIN

With the new league sea­son just a week away, Ti­mothy Molobi gives his thoughts on all the PSL clubs and pre­dicts their fi­nal fin­ish in the league

CityPress - - Sport -

Football-starved fans in South Africa hold their breath in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the week­end when the Absa Premier­ship kicks off. Kaizer Chiefs be­gin their ti­tle de­fence un­der new coach Steve Kom­phela on Sun­day. Mamelodi Sun­downs, still bit­ter af­ter los­ing the ti­tle to Chiefs, have al­ready de­clared war. The ques­tion is whether Pitso Mosi­mane can wres­tle the ti­tle back from Chiefs and lead Sun­downs to the promised land.

And how will Chiefs do with­out last sea­son’s cap­tain, Tefu Mashamaite?

How will Or­lando Pi­rates’ par­tic­i­pa­tion in the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup af­fect their league pro­gramme? Has Gor­don Ige­sund done enough to chal­lenge for the league?

Can Bid­vest Wits go the ex­tra mile and fin­ish fur­ther than their third po­si­tion of the pre­vi­ous two sea­sons? Gavin Hunt will be hop­ing to go one step fur­ther and win the ti­tle.

How will re­turnees Jomo Cos­mos and Golden Ar­rows fare? Will Free State Stars and Polok­wane City still fight to avoid rel­e­ga­tion?

And who will be the first coach­ing ca­su­alty of the sea­son?

These ques­tions and more will be an­swered over the next 10 months. How­ever, the sea­son will not be with­out drama.

The usual sus­pects – Chiefs, Sun­downs, Wits and Su­perS­port United – should be there at the end chal­leng­ing for hon­ours.

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Chiefs are still the team to beat – they lost only three league games last sea­son. And de­spite win­ning the Ned­bank Cup, Mosi­mane will still be un­der pres­sure to de­liver more sil­ver­ware.

But there will be more weight on Kom­phela to build from Stu­art Bax­ter’s suc­cess.

Pi­rates will need to be ex­cep­tional to be clas­si­fied as se­ri­ous ti­tle con­tenders.

Jug­gling the MTN8, the CAF Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup and the league marathon could all be too tax­ing for the Buc­ca­neers. It means play­ing ev­ery four days along with ex­ten­sive trav­el­ling.

Af­ter a busy time on the trans­fer mar­ket, Ige­sund should fancy his chances of claim­ing another league ti­tle, this time with Su­perS­port.

They are bound to be in the top half again depend­ing on how quickly their new sign­ings set­tle in.

Chippa United boss Chippa Mpen­gesi will be aim­ing for a much-im­proved sea­son af­ter com­ing within a whisker of drop­ping back into the NFD.

But a lot will de­pend on how long Mpen­gesi keeps Roger Sikhakhane as head coach. The two have an on-and-off re­la­tion­ship.

Free State Stars and Plat­inum Stars, who diced with rel­e­ga­tion last sea­son, have been busy on the trans­fer mar­ket to avoid a re­peat of the sit­u­a­tion.

Mandla Ncikazi and Ser­ame Let­soaka will have a baptism of fire in their first sea­son as PSL coaches.

Ncikazi has the huge task of main­tain­ing, or even sur­pass­ing, Kom­phela’s eighth-place fin­ish with Mar­itzburg United. This was their first fin­ish in the top eight.

Let­soaka has a tougher job lead­ing new­com­ers Golden Ar­rows back into the top league. Sur­pris­ingly, Ar­rows have not been on the trans­fer mar­ket. If they think they can com­pete with the same NFD play­ers, they will live to re­gret it.

Kosta Papić has to shut the back door if Polok­wane City are to have an im­pact in the league next sea­son. Last sea­son they fin­ished with the high­est goals con­ceded – 60 – some­thing he needs to ad­dress. Although they were able to score on the other end – 42 – it was at the back where they were left ex­posed.

Muhsin Er­tuğral will be hop­ing his re­turn to the league with Mpumalanga Black Aces yields pos­i­tive re­sults. He’ll have to work on his tem­per and get pos­i­tive re­sults if he wants to re­main in the job. Jomo Sono knows the PSL through and through. He’ll be aware that a pos­i­tive start will set the tone for the sea­son. He surely doesn’t want to go back to “hell”, as he calls the NFD.

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