As the much-awaited DStv Premiership kicks off tomorrow, Sihle Ndebele and Neville Khoza pick the favourites for a season that promises so much following the drama of the last term.
As coach Josef Zinnbauer made it clear that he utilised last season to prepare for this one, Pirates’ whole concentration is on the league title. Boasting seasoned campaigners like Thulani Hlatshwayo and Thabang Monare, who won the league title with Bidvest Wits in 2016/17, should go some way in helping Pirates’ cause.
Sundowns may have lost the man who’d inspired them to the past three league titles in Pitso Mosimane, but bolstering their playing personnel with the likes of Peter Shalulile and Kermit Erasmus still makes the champions a threat.
Last campaign, SuperSport finished fifth and they will want to do better this time around. They have lost only Aubrey Modiba to rivals Sundowns, while they have managed to keep key striker Bradley Grobler. They have strengthened the team with few signings like Luckyboy Mokoena and Lucky Mohomi.
Losing the last edition on the last day makes Chiefs more eager to make amends this season. The presence of a coach like Gavin Hunt, who boasts four championships under his belt, is also a huge advantage for Amakhosi. Chiefs would get even stronger if they win their transfer ban appeal, but even if they remain inactive in the transfer market they’re capable of challenging.
If it wasn’t for Covid-19, Maritzburg could’ve easily finished in the top four last season, but they ended up seventh as their momentum was disrupted. Striker Thabiso Kutumela’s rejuvenation will come handy in the new season. Losing tried and tested keeper Richard Ofori to Pirates shouldn't be a big deal as they've replaced him with Zambian Sebastian Mwange.
AmaZulu are capable of doing wonders this season. After new owner Sandile Zungu took over, the club have done well in the transfer market, bringing in quality players as they look to avoid relegation. Usuthu signed players like Luvuyo Memela, Augustine Mulenga, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Limbikani Mzava, and Siphelele Mthembu, among others.
Vying for top-eight
Cape Town City
Having lost Erasmus to Sundowns, City may struggle a bit this season as they have not found his perfect replacement. However, a top-eight finish is always within their reach. Last season they finished sixth on the table after recovering from their slow start and were among the teams that did well during the bio-bubble.
The team did well in their debut season in the PSL, finishing 10th. They will be hoping to do better this time and finish inside the top eight as they are now aware of what it takes to compete in the elite league. They have kept the bulk of the team from last season, while adding some quality like Zitha Macheke.
Beating Sundowns in the MTN8 last week should set the tone for Celtic’s season. With club legend John Maduka at the helm, Phunya Sele Sele are the team to beat. Celtic have bolstered their squad with talented players like Jabulani Ncobeni and Menzi Ndwandwe.
On the back of helping them stave off relegation last season, despite arriving towards the end of the campaign, coach Lehlohonolo Seema's goal this season would be to finish in the top-eight. Seema has what it takes to propel the Chilli Boys to the top-eight finish, having achieved the same feat with Celtic in the 2018/19 season.
New in the league yes, but that doesn’t render Galaxy an easy team to beat, especially with the fact that they inherited a number of players from the side they bought their status from, Highlands Park. The Rockets will be using former Highlands players such as Lindokuhle Mbatha, Given Msimango and Reneilwe Letsholonyane.
Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM)
TTM’s arrival in the Premiership may’ve been marred by glaring admin errors, but given the quality in their playing personnel, they are likely to give many teams a nightmare as they showed SuperSport United in the Wafa Wafa quarterfinals last week. The likes of Justin Shonga, Gustavo Paez and Lerato Lamola are expected to give the rookies firepower up front.
For a side that confirmed their safety on the final day of the past campaign, Baroka are once again likely to be one of the relegation candidates. Before the season gets under way, they are already dealing with issues as they have suspended their coach Dylan Kerr, whose future is uncertain. They have not signed well having only brought four players in Themba Chauke, Cheslyn Jampies, Oscarine Masuluke, and Augustine Mahlonoko.
Generally, new teams find the going difficult and Swallows may have made matters worse by signing a lot of players (17) most of whom are PSL rejects, with the likes of Petso Maphanga, Musa Nyatama and Wandisile Letlabika. The wholesale recruitment may destabilise everything they built last season when they won the NFD title.
Leopards haven't replaced their top goal scorer, Mwape Musonda, who recently left for Emirati club Hatta of the United Arab Emirates Pro League. They have also lost Joseph Mhlongo, Lesedi Kapinga, and Thabo Matlaba, replacing them with inexperienced troops. With coach Patrick Aussems new in SA, the writing is on the wall that the team could be fighting for relegation again as the club took a gamble. They look sure to fight for relegation once again.
The departure of seasoned coach in Steve Komphela, who joined Sundowns, is likely to have a negative impact on Arrows this season. Komphela’s successor, Mandla Ncikazi, is still wet behind the ears in the head coaching role. Arrows’ inability to buy quality players, always relying on their MDC team for new blood, could also be their undoing.
* League winners: Pirates
* MTN8: Chiefs
* Nedbank Cup: SuperSport
* Top scorer: Kermit Erasmus
*League winners: SuperSport
*Nedbank Cup: Pirates
Top-scorer: Bradley Grobler