Take the Kings of Africa, Mamelodi Sundowns, throw in former champs turned chumps, Kaizer Chiefs, sprinkle the first champions of the season, Bidvest Wits, and the last champions of the last campaign, SuperSport United, who both boast strong squads assembled to win the league. Add a dash of a team looking to celebrate their 80th anniversary in style, Orlando Pirates, and for flavour, a pinch of a new club upsetting the establishment - Cape Town City. Mix it and you have a mouth-watering prospect for what should be the most tightly contested Absa Premiership race of recent times. And those are not the only ingredients. There are also Platinum Stars and Chippa United, who started this campaign as dark horses but have spent the first third of this season searching for a winning formula. Instead, surprise packages Golden Arrows and Polokwane City started like a house on fire to force their way into mixing it with the big boys. What makes this season interesting and a tightly-contested affair is that almost every club has something to prove. Sundowns, who won the league in record style with 71 points, want to retain their trophy after winning the CAF Champions League. Wits, who have been contained by the ceiling of second place, want to break free and win the league for the first time in the club’s history in the PSL era. Matsatsantsa a Pitori have given coach Stuart Baxter the players he wanted. Now he has to deliver as club chairman Khulu Sibiya said. When coaches don’t deliver after being given quality material, they’re shown the door there. Cavin Johnson is a case in point. Chiefs’ Steve Komphela is staring at the exit door. Perhaps only the championship will save him from a premature exit. The Buccaneers, under an interim coach after Muhsin Ertugral’s abrupt resignation, are driven by the need to mark their milestone with a big celebration. So only the league title will make that party memorable. But they have hit some speed bumps on that road to success. Meanwhile, former coach Eric Tinkler is smooth sailing in the Mother City. Cape Town City are under no pressure to win the league. Reaching the final of the Telkom Knockout in their first season is already an achievement but the drive to be a winner that pushes Tinkler will see the club fight to the end. The Chilli Boys and Dikwena are still working on their identity crisis. These clubs dominate possession in most of their matches but struggle to find goals, which sees them languishing in the bottom half of the log despite their beautiful football. The assertion by Wits coach Gavin Hunt that the league winners aren’t likely to reach Sundowns’ magical 71 points seems to be coming true. That’s because the top clubs have been cancelling each other out, taking points from each other. The Brazilians beat Amakhosi but lost to City. Wits also took three points from Amakhosi but lost to SuperSport. That’s how this season will be - a dog-eat-dog situation. Next year, with the Champions League and the CAF Confederation Cup in the mix, the depth of the squads at the clubs playing continental football will be tested. The Brazilians and the Clever Boys will represent the country in the Champions League, while SuperSport and Dikwena do duty in the Confederation Cup. All four clubs have promised to give it a real go, with the increased prize money an incentive. How they juggle those commitments will shape their season in what should be a tightly contested race to the finish. Saturday Star
Instead of fighting the fact that the Fifa Club World Cup is in the back of the minds of Sundowns’ players, Pitso Mosimane will use that as motivation.
Cape Town City continued their fine form with a hard-fought victory against Bidvest Wits.
Cape Town City are fully prepared for a physical battle when they face Wits at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg.
“Even when things were down we kept on going and working hard, and it shows we are united as a team.”
The Chilli Boys started the season in splendid fashion with their intricate passing, but have gone off the boil in the last month or so.
Consistency, not complacency, needed for Cape Town City to mount a real title challenge, writes Mazola Molefe.
For the second match in a row Golden Arrows shipped in three goals but this time they banked a point in a 3-3 thriller against Polokwane City at the King Zwelithini Stadium.