Top picks and likely flops in the PSL this season

Sowetan picks the favourites for the PSL 2019/2020 league title, as well as those that may struggle. 

TITLE CONTENDERS

Mamelodi Sundowns

The desire to win their record 10th league title this season is a massive motivating factor for Sundowns in the new season. The Brazilians are always the team to beat and nothing is expected to change as they still have the same playing and coaching personnel, led by Pitso Mosimane.

Orlando Pirates

Finishing as runners-up to Downs in the past two seasons makes Pirates more eager to finally topple the Tshwane side. The Micho Sredojevic-guided, pictured, Bucs are even stronger this term after snatching a number of hot players such as Siphesihle Ndlovu, Fortune Makaringe and Gabadinho Mhango .the list is endless.

Cape Town City

Benni McCarthy's, pictured, charges probably didn't believe enough that they had a real fighting chance last season, but the one thing they have - that many PSL teams lack - is their fighting spirit. When they are a goal or two down, they don't simply throw in the towel. What they needed was to further bolster their squad and the acquisition of Abbubaker Mobara, Bernio Verhagen and Tashreeq Morris will make them even more difficult to beat.

Bidvest Wits

Boasting a coach that has won four league titles in Gavin Hunt, pictured, always makes the Clever Boys favourites. Having international stars such as Namibian winger Deon Hotto and the Bafana Bafana trio of Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkhwanazi and Sifiso Hlanti, also puts Wits in the driving seat. The quartet will be eager to bring what they learnt at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt to the university side.

TITLE PRETENDERS 

Kaizer Chiefs

Chiefs are desperate to make up for a disappointing ninth place finish last term, especially because this is the season they celebrate their 50th anniversary. They are starting on the backfoot, however. They have signed five players, but they released about ten, so they may lack the numbers. Itumeleng Khune, pictured, and Happy Mashiane returned from injury, but can they hit the ground running? Fans are also not entirely convinced that coach Ernst Middendorp is the right man for Amakhosi.

SuperSport United

In his second season, coach Kaitano Tembo may have picked up a few things to improve on their sixth spot from last season and they have also managed to hold on to their star players despite interest in Aubrey Modiba, pictured , Evans Rusike and Teboho Mokoena. But truth be told, they didn't play well last season and with only three new signings (Kudakwashe Mahachi, Thamsanqa Gabuza and Jesse Donn), Matsatsantsa may not be stronger than the previous season.

VYING FOR TOP EIGHT

Highlands Park

The Lions of the North surprised all and sundry by finishing seventh in their first season back in the top flight. Highlands are probably stronger than last season after snapping up the likes of Limbikani Mzava and Rodney Ramagalela.

Having kept the same technical team led by Owen da Gama, pictured they are looking good.

Polokwane City

Under Slovakian Jozef Vukusic, the Limpopo side punched well above their weight to end fifth last season. They proved they could do it without striker Rodney Ramagalela following their fallout, after he signed a pre-contract with Highlands Park.

The trouble is they have now lost key midfielder Sammy Seabi to Mamelodi Sundowns and Vukusic, who resigned, has been replaced by the Serbian, Zlatko Krmpotic.

They have the potential to surprise again, but might also struggle given the changes.

Black Leopards

Lidoda Duvha appear to have signed well with Thabo Matlaba, Thuso Phala and Mogakolodi Ngele among the players to have come through. What these players add is experience, especially Matlaba and Phala, to a squad that desperately needed it even last season. If they can improve their away form, they have the potential to do well.

Maritzburg United

The Team of Choice must have learnt their lesson after surviving through the PSL promotion play-offs. Maritzburg moved fast to keep coach Eric Tinkler and roped in some quality players in Phumlani Ntshangase, Daylon Claasen and Kwanda Mngonyama.

Chippa United

Given the nature of their owner, Siviwe Mpengesi, pictured, who's notoriously trigger-happy, Chippa coach Clinton Larsen knows his job is at risk and he's expected to give his all from the word go. The Chilli Boys have recruited wisely, bringing in the likes of Patrick Tignyemb, Lehlogonolo Masalesa and Mzikayise Mashaba.

AmaZulu

AmaZulu's past two seasons have been defined by off-field issues. In the 2017/18 season, Usuthu were dislodged from the top eight after SuperSport United were awarded three points amid the Ajax Cape Town-Tendai Ndoro saga. Last term, the Durban club was docked six points after refusing to pay Namibian player Phinheas Nambandi. Without off-field drama Usuthu are capable of doing wonders.

POTENTIAL STRUGGLERS


Bloemfontein Celtic

By finishing eighth on the log, Celtic did fairly well last season, given their protracted financial woes. However, Phunya Sele Sele look set to struggle this term, because of the obvious reasons; their monetary crisis haven't been completely solved and they lost a number of influential figures such as Patrick Tignyemb, Tshegofatso Mabasa and Bongani Sam among others. They have hardly replaced these players.

Baroka FC

Once again they have signed a whole lot of players (10 at the time of writing) and for a side that finished 14th last season, they are putting coach Wedson Nyirenda, pictured under unnecessary pressure by demanding that he wins the league. For starters, they should work around ensuring they aren't poor at home like last season.

Stellenbosch FC

As a new team in the league, Stellies are going to find the going difficult. They have kept the bulk of their promotion-winning squad, meaning they might need some time to familiarise themselves with the demands of elite league.

Golden Arrows

Finishing 10th last season should have been a warning for them that it's tough out there, but with just three new signings (Michael Gumede, Gladwin Shitolo, pictured, and Edmore Sibanda), Abafana Bes'thende have to realise that they might not improve on last season's position and instead, could end up fighting relegation.

Predictions

Sihle's prediction

League winners: Pirates

MTN8: Sundowns

Telkom Knockout: Chiefs

Nedbank Cup: Wits

Footballer of the Season: Lebohang Maboe

Top scorer: Gift Motupa

Tiyani's prediction

League winners: Sundowns

MTN8: Pirates

Telkom Knockout: Chiefs

Nedbank Cup: Cape Town City

Footballer of the Season: Ben Motshwari

Top scorer: Lazarous Kambole

Fixtures (Kick off at 3pm unless stated)

Tomorrow

Sundowns v SuperSport, Lucas Moripe StadiumChippa v Stellenbosch, Nelson Mandela Bay StadiumPirates v Celtic, Orlando, 6pmAmaZulu v Wits, King Zwelithini, 8.15pm

Sunday

Highlands v Chiefs, MakhulongLeopards v Polokwane, ThohoyandouArrows v Maritzburg, Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium

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