Survivor PSL

The Mail & Guardian assess the clubs on what promises to be one of the toughest seasons in the history of the Premier Soccer League.

SuperSport United
In the past two seasons the reigning champions have lost two of their best players, Teko Modise and Kathlego Mashigo, but have still managed to win the league back to back. It remains to be seen if coach Gavin Hunt will succeed this season after losing another key player, Elias Pelembe, to Mamelodi Sundowns. It was reported that Hunt was upset with the United management for selling Pelembe. Hunt has proved that he is one of the best local coaches the country has ever produced and perhaps he should forget about the sale and work with what he has in his backyard. Matsatsantsa a Pitori have signed Siyabonga Nkosi, Jabulani Maluleke, Brian Umony, Thabo Mongala and Emile Baron. Should Hunt stay on until the end of the season, United could well keep the league trophy.

Orlando Pirates
The Buccaneers will be the team to watch if they are able to pick up from where they left off last season. Pirates have started the season well, beating Manchester City in the Vodacom Challenge and winning the Telkom Charity Cup. They have played some exciting football in the past few matches with error-prone goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs making some fine saves to keep his team in the game. Good signings such as Phenyo Mongala and Thembinkosi Fanteni should steer the Buccaneers to some silverware this season. It’s about time Pirates won something.

Kaizer Chiefs
With the appointment of Vladimir Vermezovic as coach, things look quite promising for Amakhosi. But if Vermezovic wants to win some silverware with Chiefs he should look at his central defence, particularly Valery Nahayo. Perhaps he should make way for Chiefs’s youngsters who have shown commitment in recent matches. The likes of Punch Masenamela, Knowledge Musonda, George Lebese, Tshifhiwa Mbooi, Lucky Khune, Zhaimu Jambo and Mthokozisi Yende have risen to the occasion when given a chance.

Free State Stars
It remains to be seen if the Free State side will pick up where former coach Steve Komphela left off. In the past two seasons Stars have finished in the top five and have caused some upsets in the league. The same should happen this season.

Golden Arrows
Arrows finally made it into the top eight last season, but the coming campaign will be tough for the team, which often plays entertaining football. It is likely that Arrows will miss two of their top players, Papi Zothwane and Kagiso Dikgacoi, who have both left.

Bidvest Wits
The Clever Boys always start well but stumble towards the end of the season. Unlike other seasons, should the students be consistent they can challenge for the league and cause major upsets. Watch out for new signings Mark Haskins and Sipho Mngomezulu.

Ajax Cape Town
All is not well at Ikamva. Coach Muhsin Ertugral’s return to the urban warriors has seen the exit of striker Mabhuti Khenyeza because of irreconcilable differences and Nhlanhla Kubheka might also be on his way out after his confrontation with Ertugral. Should the coach continue to treat the players disrespectfully, he could fail dismally at Ajax — and with chairman John Comitis bashing Kubheka on national radio, this could be the start of a downward spiral for this team.

AmaZulu
This is the season in which newly appointed coach Neil Tovey should bring back the glory days of the club. Former coach Clive Barker laid the foundation by finishing in the top eight. Chances of AmaZulu fighting to avoid relegation this season, as they have in recent years, are slim. They could easily finish in an impressive position.

Mamelodi Sundowns
This club still has a long way to go. Hristo Stoichkov has a good squad, but it will take some time before Sundowns find their rhythm. They haven’t been playing impressive football and couldn’t connect their passes in recent matches. Sundowns president Patrice Motsepe must have learned by now that money doesn’t buy success — they failed to finish in the top eight last season. If all goes well for them they will challenge for the league, having signed Khenyeza and Zothwane, to name but two.

Santos
Following coach David Bright’s departure, the team could be fighting to avoid relegation this season. Bright really turned things around at Santos. They could easily have walked away with the league title last season, but because of inconsistency they didn’t even manage to secure a top-eight spot. A disappointing season looms for the Cape side.

Moroka Swallows
It is highly unlikely that the acquisition of Siyabonga Nomvete, Collins Mbesuma, Lungisani Ndlela and Ashraf Hendriks will help the Dube Birds succeed. Until Swallows players approach every game with a winning mentality, they cannot challenge for the league. Swallows seem to play with determination against the big teams, but against smaller sides they rarely produce the goods. Their decision to part ways with Julio Lael, who won the Nedbank Cup, might come back to haunt them.

Maritzburg United
As with last season they could find themselves languishing at the bottom half of the log, fighting for survival. United could be playing in the national first division next season. Gordon Igesund has failed at the club. Change is needed.

Platinum Stars
Watch out for the Tycoons this season. Komphela’s troops could be contenders for the league. The Stars featured in this year’s Telkom Charity Cup, where they defeated Sundowns and lost in the final to Pirates. Komphela has a formidable team and has given players such as Jabu Mahlangu and Mbulelo Mabizela lifelines — and only a good coach can do that. He also signed Japan’s Norikazu Murakami, who was impressive in the Charity Cup.

Bloemfontein Celtic
When will this team repay their loyal and vocal supporters? It’s time they won something. They avoided relegation last season and should finish in the top eight this season.

Mpumalanga Black Aces
The new kids on the block with no home ground should set aside their off-the-field problems and focus on staying in the premiership. Not much should be expected of them.

Jomo Cosmos
Not much should be made of the signing of 12 new players last month. Cosmos should only just avoid relegation.

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Lucky Sindane
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