Battle lines drawn in the NFD
The battle fields have been levelled for the 16 clubs in the National First Division (NFD) as the curtain rises on the 2007-08 season this weekend.
While there are a number of potentially enthralling fixtures on offer, many people should be waiting to see how Maritzburg United will fare in their first Mvela Golden League encounter today at 8pm.
They face fellow NFD newcomers African Warriors at Harry Gwala Stadium in an intriguing clash.
United are in this division after their relegation from the top flight at the end of last season.
Warriors were promoted after winning the Vodacom Promotion League playoffs in June.
Younus Kadodia, United's brand manager, said they were wary of opening their campaign against a team like Warriors.
"They are a closed book to us and we would have loved to play them later," Kadodia said yesterday. "But this is a match we have to win at all costs to build the morale of the players early in the season.
"We might have lost a number of quality players, but I think we can achieve our objective with those we have in the squad."
United have lost the likes of Onismor Bhasera, Sandile Ndlovu, Siyabonga Siphika, Aime Kitenge and Ivan Winstanley.
But they should be competitive after they managed to hold on to players such as Lynch Pule, Graham King, Fadlu Davids and David Twala.
A bonus for United is that they have enlisted the services of the experienced Ian Palmer.
Kadodia is right not to underestimate Warriors after the QwaQwa-based side reinforced their squad with seasoned campaigners including Lebajoa Mphongoa, Fees Moloi, Thiyekile Gulwa, James Mokoena and Kagiso Letshwenyo.
"We will be equal to the task not only against United tomorrow [tonight] but throughout the season," Lerato Mokaeane, Warriors' spokesman, warned yesterday.
There is a potential humdinger tomorrow in Phalaborwa when 2006-07 NFD Platinum playoffs finalists University of Pretoria, alias AmaTuks, pay Dynamos a visit at Lulekani Stadium at 3pm.
Rest of the weekend's fixtures:
Chatsworth: Durban Stars v Winnerspark (7.30pm); Blue Down: FC Cape Town (formerly Vasco da Gama) v Mpumalanga Black Aces (City Pillars) (8pm);
Tomorrow: Wolfsons: Bay United v Witbank Spurs (3pm); Wynberg: Western Province United v Hanover Park (3pm); Eldorado Park: FC AK v Ikapa Sporting (Fidentia Rangers) (3pm); Odi: GaRankuwa United v Nathi Lions (3pm).
l Get your full Mvela Golden League fixtures for the 2007-08 season in a pull-out in the Sowetan's Sports Voltage on Monday.