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Season preview Let the games begin ...

Will Soweto giants stop Downs in their tracks this season?

Neville Khoza Journalist
Teboho Mokoena of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates during the DStv Premiership 2021/22 match between Royal AM and Mamelodi Sundowns at Chatsworth Stadium on the 23 May 2022 © Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Teboho Mokoena of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates during the DStv Premiership 2021/22 match between Royal AM and Mamelodi Sundowns at Chatsworth Stadium on the 23 May 2022 © Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

As the eagerly awaited new DStv Premiership season gets underway tonight, many are keen to see if Mamelodi Sundowns' dominance will finally be stopped or whether Soweto Giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates will finally challenge them. Neville Khoza and Athenkosi Tsotsi take stock of how the season will possibly pan out. 

Title contenders 

Mamelodi Sundowns chair Thlopie Motsepe looks on as new signing Sipho Mbule pens deal to join the Brazilians.
Mamelodi Sundowns chair Thlopie Motsepe looks on as new signing Sipho Mbule pens deal to join the Brazilians.
Image: Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns

The Brazilians go into the new season as the overwhelming favourites and as defending champions. They have a target on their backs of a sixth successive league title. Sundowns are always a team to beat and the same is expected this season as they kept the same team and only made a few additions in Ronwen Williams, Sipho Mbule and Abubeker Nasir. 

Miguel Timm of Marumo Gallants has found a new home with Orlando Pirates.
Miguel Timm of Marumo Gallants has found a new home with Orlando Pirates.
Image: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images

Orlando Pirates 

For the last few seasons, many expected Pirates to put a massive challenge on Sundowns but failed to do that. This season is the same and having brought in a few players and unknown Spanish coach Jose Riveiro, they are likely to improve from their six-place finish last season. They have bolstered their squad with players like Miguel Timm, Evidence Makgopa, Bienvenu Eva Nga, Nkosinathi Sibisi and Tapelo Xoki and will hope for a change of fortunes this time.

Marc van Heerden
Marc van Heerden
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/Backpagepix

Cape Town City 

After finishing as runners-up to Sundowns last season, the Citizens believe they can topple Sundowns at the top this campaign. They have kept the bulk of their players and only made two acquisitions in Marc van Heerden and Jordan Bender and will be stronger this season. 

Kaizer Chiefs

There is no doubt the Amakhosi have made some good business in the transfer window and will improve from last season. For all the players they have signed, coach Arthur Zwane had a say and are players he wanted; but can they hit the ground running? Zwane believes so, and fans are convinced that he will lead them to glory. 

Royal AM CEO Sinky Mnisi addresses a press conference about matters he says have been in the media about him at Premier Hotel OR Tambo on August 3.
Royal AM CEO Sinky Mnisi addresses a press conference about matters he says have been in the media about him at Premier Hotel OR Tambo on August 3.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Title pretenders

Royal AM 

The Thwihli Thwahla probably didn’t believe enough that they had a real fighting chance last season, but the one thing they had that many teams lacked was their fighting spirit when they were trailing.

When they are a goal or two down, they didn’t throw in a towel, having scored 18 last-minute goals last season. They have lost their striker Victor Letsoalo to Sekhukhune United and replaced him with Ruzaigh Gamildien and Samir Nuurkovic, who is still injured. They also lost coach John Maduka and it may be difficult this season to show the same performance. 

Zitha Kwinika in preseason training at the Kaizer Chiefs Village in Naturena.
Zitha Kwinika in preseason training at the Kaizer Chiefs Village in Naturena.
Image: Kaizer Chiefs FC

Stellenbosch

Steve Barker’s charges had an outstanding season after finishing fourth, their highest in the DStv Premiership. They have lost two key players in Ashely du Preez and Zitha Kwinika to Chiefs, and have replaced them with a few players. They are hoping to show the same performance this season but it may be tough for them. 

Mabhuti Khenyeza and Vusumuzi Vilakazi, co-coaches of Lamontville Golden Arrows FC.
Mabhuti Khenyeza and Vusumuzi Vilakazi, co-coaches of Lamontville Golden Arrows FC.
Image: Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Battling it out for top-eight

Golden Arrows

Having missed out on the top eight with a goal difference last season, Arrows will be looking to do better this time. They have kept faith in co-coaches Vusumuzi Vilakazi and Mabhuti Khanyeza to steer the ship in the right direction.

SuperSport United 

Boasting a coach that has won four league titles in Gavin Hunt in the past, SuperSport have always finished inside the top eight and that will see them continue with that pedigree. They have lost captain Ronwen Williams and Sipho Mbule to Mamelodi Sundowns while they have bolstered their team with Ricardo Goss, who joined them on loan, and Thulani Hlatshwayo while Bernard Parker is expected to sign.

Daniel Cardoso is one of the players that have been signed by Sekhukhune FC
Daniel Cardoso is one of the players that have been signed by Sekhukhune FC
Image: Backpagepix

Sekhukhune United

Last season, they started well and were competing in the top eight only to falter in the second round of the campaign. They went on a signing spree, bringing in players such as Victor Letsoalo, Linda Mntambo, Tshegofatso Mabasa and Daniel Cardoso among others. They will look to improve their 11th place finish from last season and will need to hit the ground running.

Richards Bay

The KwaZulu-Natal Rich Boyz appeared to have signed well as they look to do well in their maiden season in the DStv Premiership with players such as Kanyiso Zungu, Abel Mabaso and Sibusiso Mthethwa among the players to have come through. What these players will add is experience, especially Zungu and Mabaso. If they can hit the ground running, they are likely to retain their status.

AmaZulu

Having released 16 players at the end of last season, Usuthu went on to replace them with quality players such as George Maluleka, Gabadinho Mhango and Dumisani Zuma among others. Coach Brandon Truter did well last season while he was a caretaker and will hope those players hit the ground running but could suffer from a second-season syndrome.

Maritzburg United 

The Team of Choice have always been a team fighting for relegation for the last few seasons. But the arrival of coach John Maduka from Royal AM could see them change that. Maduka did well with Royal and is expected to change the fortunes of the team around.

The club have backed him by signing Siboniso Conco, Tshidido Monomodi, Brian Hlongwa, King Ndlovu, Given Masikinya, Bongani Sam, Isaac Masia and Thabo Moloisane and seems to have learnt their lessons.

Baseline boys

TS Galaxy

After helping Galaxy to survive relegation last season, coach Read Ramovic was offered another three-year deal on his contract and has already vowed to make sure the club doesn’t find themselves in a similar position this season. But having lost several players including Ethan Brooks and striker Augustine Kwem, Galaxy only brought two quality players in Sibusiso Vilakazi, who struggled with injuries, and Xola Mlambo. They are likely to find the going tougher again.

Chippa United

After years of the club clinging to their PSL status by surviving numerous relegation battles, this season won’t be different for the Chilli Boys.

Despite experimenting with Daine Klate as head coach, Chippa also went on to sign 16 players to bolster their squad, with many of them unknown Having survived relegation towards the end of last season, the perennial strugglers will again find it difficult in the new campaign.

Swallows

In their second season after their rebirth, Swallows struggled throughout the campaign and having survived relegation through promotional playoffs, they were expected to be active in the transfer window. But they have released a couple of players and failed to replace them with quality players. Financial woes are the major reason behind the club’s failure to have signed some top players, despite having lost several players from last season.

Marumo Gallants

Gallants may regret the decision of releasing coach Dan Malesela and replacing him with young and unknown coach Romain Folz, who is 32 years old. Malesela took them out of the danger zone to safety at the end of last season. Having also lost their key player Miguel Timm, Gallants didn’t replace him with the same quality and have also not strengthened their team enough.

Predictions 

Neville’s predictions

League winners: Sundowns

MTN8: Sundowns

Nedbank Cup: Royal

Footballer of the Season: Peter Shalulile

Top Scorer: Peter Shalulile

Athenkosi’s prediction

League winner: Mamelodi Sundowns

MTN 8: Orlando Pirates

Nedbank Cup: Mamelodi Sundowns 

Footballer of the Season: Ronwen Williams

Top Scorer: Peter Shalulile 

 

 

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