Champs to pick up pieces

2009-08-07 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — Premier Soccer League champions SuperSport United have been boosted by the signing of former Bafana Bafana striker, Petrus Mahlatsi, from Bloemfontein Celtic who could make his debut for the PSL champions when they face Maritzburg United in the opening Absa Premiership fixture at Pietermaritzburg’s Woodburn Stadium on Friday night. Kickoff is at 8 pm.

SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt said he is looking to strengthen his attack and appears to have found an ideal player. Mahlatsi has played three times for Bafana, but with the 2010 Soccer World Cup just around the corner, he will be using his new club to resurrect his international career.

He will help alleviate the loss of two key wingers in Elias Pelembe and Lerato Chabangu, both sold to neighbours Mamelodi Sundowns this week. But Hunt stressed his side would be aiming at picking up the pieces when they begin the defence of their title against a new-look Maritzburg.

SuperSport were stung when they were beaten on penalties in the quarter-finals of the MTN8 competition at Durban’s Chatsworth Stadium on Tuesday night after the teams were level 2-2 after extra time.

“It was disappointing and frustrating losing after we dominated the game and then lost on penalties. But I was pleased with the overall performances. They will now have to soldier on and get off to a winning start and build a winning momentum in the league.”

Hunt is hoping his new midfield signing, Siyabonga Nkosi, starts to gel. “Surprisingly, what was good about Nkosi against AmaZulu, was his defensive work, but he is still out of shape. He will improve, as will all the players as the season gets under way.”

Hunt said Maritzburg will be a tougher proposition this season under coach Gordon Igesund.

“Gordon did not have a preseason last time, but this time he has been able to prepare and bring in some better players. It is not going to be an easy start, especially playing away in the first match,” he said.

Moroka Swallows under new coach Rainer Zobel, face Golden Arrows at the newly renovated Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday at 3 pm.

Arrows got their season off to a winning start when they beat Free State Stars 1-0 in their MTN8 quarter-final at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Wednesday night.

The same afternoon at the Rand Stadium sees the return to the top flight of Jomo Cosmos who won the National First Division championship and open their account against Platinum Stars under coach Steve Komphela.

Stars shone in last weekend’s rain-marred Telkom Charity Cup played at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, but will be in the dark as to what to expect from Ezenkosi.

Kaizer Chiefs will have to play a lot better than they did when defeating BidVest Wits 3-1 at the Rand Stadium in their MTN8 quarter-final clash on Tuesday night, when they entertain Santos at the Orlando Stadium tomorrow night (8.15 pm).

The score flattered Chiefs but said new Amakhosi coach Vladimir Vermezovic: “The league is different from the Cup. I do not know much about Santos, but there will not be as much pressure on us as there was on the Cup match against Wits.”

Mamelodi Sundowns, who are doing what they do at this time every season — buying as many players as possible — meet the other newcomers to the PSL, Mpumalanga Black Aces at the Super Stadium, also on Saturday at 8.15 pm.

Downs have bought Elias Pelembe and Lerato Chabangu from SuperSport, plus former Newcastle midfielder Mathew Pattison, strikers Mabhut­i Khenyeza from Ajax Cape Town and Lebo Mokoena from Orlando Pirates.

The Brazilians have another new coach in former Barcelona and Bulgarian star Hristo Stoichkov, who will probably be confused as who to play and who to leave out of his star-studded team that are beginning to get the tag of serial under achievers.

Downs looked ordinary when they were beaten 2-0 by Platinum Stars in the Telkom Charity Cup played in Rustenburg last weekend and their fans will be looking for a big improvement after all the money club president Patrice Motsepe, has spend so far this season.

FIXTURES

Tonight: Maritzburg United vs SuperSport United (Woodburn Stadium, 8 pm — live on SuperSport 4)

Tomorrow: Moroka Swallows vs Golden Arrows (Johannesburg Stadium, 3 pm — live on SuperSport 4), Jomo Cosmos vs Platinum Stars (Rand Stadium, 3 pm — live on SABC1), Kaizer Chiefs vs Santos (Orlando Stadium, 8.15 pm — live on SABC1), Mamelodi Sundowns vs Black Aces (Super Stadium, 8.15 pm — live on SuperSport 4)

Sunday: (all 3 pm) AmaZulu vs Wits University (Chatsworth Stadium), Bloemfontein Celtic vs Free State Stars (Seisa Ramabodu Stadium — live on SABC1), Ajax Cape Town vs Orlando Pirates (Newlands Stadium — live on SuperSport 4) — Sapa.

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