Starring in Africa can haunt them in PSL
Mamelodi Sundowns will start as favourites to retain the Premier Soccer League title, but the big question is: Will the same fate that befell Orlando Pirates come back to haunt them?
In other words‚ are the Brazilians set to have their domestic ambitions bogged down by their success in continental competition?
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane obviously saw the drag on Pirates’ resources when they reached the finals of the African Champions League in 2013 and the African Confederations Cup last year.
Mosimane’s solution has been to give his players limited time off through the off-season and look to the break in January‚ when the league shuts down for a month because of the African Nations Cup finals‚ to give them a proper rest.
He is gambling that the mid-season break will refresh tired legs and see his side revitalised for the business end of the campaign. But with one eye off the ball‚ Sundowns face a bevy of other contenders.
Just who are they?
ORLANDO PIRATES: Muhsin Ertugral has never won a league title, but been given considerable resources to break that duck in his new job. The Buccaneers signaled their ambitions with a flurry of transfer market activity as they seek to celebrate their 80th anniversary next year in some style. Pirates are also boosted by the return of Oupa Manyisa from long-term injury.
KAIZER CHIEFS: Steve Komphela has been allowed to have his own backroom staff this season, but there are doubts around the quality of signings the club have brought in. There will be the usual pressure to succeed for the country’s best supported club‚ but they can ill afford a repeat of the horror run of form they had in the closing months of the last campaign. A change of captaincy is also intriguing, with Itumeleng Khune taking over from Siphiwe Tshabalala.
SUPERSPORT UNITED: A strong-looking squad – and under the Midas touch of coach Stuart Baxter – will be searching for consistency. They have a proven goal scorer in Jeremy Brockie but a lot of question marks about their defence. SuperSport started poorly last season and never recovered. But if they blast off in this campaign‚ they might take some catching.
BIDVEST WITS: Last season‚ coach Gavin Hunt said Wits still did not have a winning culture – an ability to see themselves over the line. Finishing second in the last campaign was their best return yet in the PSL and the students will be hoping they can go one better this time round. But they have lost Sibusiso Vilakazi and Papy Faty‚ which is a big blow to their midfield