Much ado about nothing in PSL
The on-off Absa Premiership is back after a big break, only to usher in another recess, writes Timothy Molobi
A lot has happened since the last round of Absa Premiership matches.
After some changes to clubs’ technical teams, one would be forgiven for confusing the coaches on the bench.
Three coaches – Serame Letsoaka, Clive Barker and Clinton Larsen – have left their clubs, while a fourth, Roger Sikhakhane, is suspended.
Letsoaka and Larsen have swapped places at Golden Arrows and Bloemfontein Celtic.
Former FC Cape Town coach Dan Malesela, who joined Chippa United as Sikhakhane’s assistant, has already been elevated to the top post after the latter was put on ice.
When the league resumes today, there will be new but old faces in the technical areas. It’s a black Christmas for some and a joyful one for others.
Starting from today’s fixture between Free State Stars and the University of Pretoria, it is the survival of the fittest, as coaches are fighting for their jobs.
AmaTuks coach Sammy Troughton has been skating on thin ice for some time and another loss this afternoon and next week to neighbours SuperSport United in a Tshwane derby could signal the end for him.
New coaches will be in both dugouts in Port Elizabeth when Malesela leads Chippa against Letsoaka on the Celtic bench.
Letsoaka is now assisted by Duncan Lechesa after the demotion of Lehlohonolo Seema to the Celtic development side.
Another “new” coach, Larsen, will start his assignment at Arrows with a trip to Polokwane City against newcomer Júlio César Leal.
Eric Tinkler, whose future at Pirates has been the subject of much speculation, will be hoping to enter the festive break on a high with a victory over high-riding Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday.
Another loss to a top side will not go down well with Pirates supporters – they want to move up from 11th on the log.
With no more continental competition to focus on, Tinkler’s charges should be able to channel their efforts into the league programme.
For a change, the Buccaneers have had a two-week rest after their loss to Étoile du Sahel a fortnight ago. They should be fresh to face a Sundowns side that contested the Telkom Knockout final on Wednesday.
Pirates have not had the best of starts – losing four of their nine matches.
Sundowns, on the other hand, have been on a roll, winning six of their seven
Free State Stars vs University of Pretoria (Goble Park, 3.30pm)
Chippa United vs Bloemfontein Celtic (Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, 8pm)
Golden Arrows vs Polokwane City (Chatsworth Stadium, 3.30pm); Free State Stars vs Jomo Cosmos (Goble Park, 3.30pm); Kaizer Chiefs vs Bidvest Wits (Cape Town Stadium, 6pm); Black Aces vs Ajax Cape Town (Mbombela Stadium, 8.15pm)
University of Pretoria vs SuperSport United (Tuks Stadium, 3.30pm); Mamelodi Sundowns vs Orlando Pirates (Loftus Stadium, 3.30pm); Platinum Stars vs Maritzburg United (Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 3.30pm)
league games. Their last loss was in September, when they went down to Golden Arrows.
Another interesting battle will be at Cape Town Stadium, where new lodgers Kaizer Chiefs will be hoping to stop log leaders Bidvest Wits in their tracks.
This will be Chiefs’ first game at their alternative home venue.
Joint leading top scorer Collins Mbesuma will be looking to add to his six goals when Mpumalanga Black Aces host Ajax Cape Town at Mbombela Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Zambian striker has been in good scoring form, along with his fellow goalchart topper, Free State Stars’ Andréa Fileccia.
After this weekend’s round of fixtures the league will break yet again for the festive season and resume in the second week of the new year.
GOAL POACHER Collins Mbesuma is back to his scoring ways
ON FORM Andréa Fileccia has netted six times for Free State Stars in the league