Who will top the PSL tree?

2010-08-26 00:00

With a host of glittering stadia and the distinct whiff of quality football still in the air, local football fans have every right to expect a step up in class when the Absa Premiership kicks off tomorrow evening with Vasco da Gama hosting Soweto giants Orlando Pirates.

Add the fact that the much anticipated mass exodus of Bafana players hasn’t occurred, and the signs point to the World Cup hangover not lasting for much longer.

With a new season comes new hope, and the usual suspects have made the usual noises about this being their year.

Of course, reigning three-time champions SuperSport United have contented themselves with doing their talking on the field, and the results have been phenomenal, if not exhilarating.

Strangely, it is the champions themselves who have lost the most in the off-season, with Daine Klate taking his pace and precise left boot to Pirates and skipper Bongani Khumalo currently at Tottenham Hotspurs on a trial.

If the excellent Khumalo does depart, the ‘other side’ from Pretoria will have a far tougher task of winning a fourth title on the bounce.

Not that the champions have not roped in some reinforcements.

A player who may yet fire them to glory is Kermit Erasmus, who may finally show local front-men what to do when a chance comes your way.

A future Bafana star, Erasmus will cause defenders and keepers as much strife as the striking workers have to the sick and needy in recent weeks.

Bradley Carnell has come in, but the legs have gone from the former Wits and Chiefs man. He will lend valuable experience, however.

And what of the also-rans from last year?

Orlando Pirates have been busy shopping, with Klate already impressing down the left flank.

Whether his arrival will mean a more influential season for the unpredictable Teko Modise remains to be seen, but the Buccaneers seemed better armed to mount a challenge than ever.

Of course, talk of Pirates usually leads to Kaizer Chiefs. And the Phefeni Boys are again talking up an ‘Operation Vat Alles’, since they started the new campaign with a Charity Cup win.

Siphiwe Tshabalala was almost gone with the wind, but lofty price tags and undesirable locations have conspired to keep the most famous left boot in the country.

Chiefs fans will rejoice, because an in-form Tshabalala is still one of the most dangerous sights in SA football.

Reneilwe ‘Yeye’ Letsholonyane needs to stamp his authority in the middle of the park, while Sithembiso Ngcobo will have to deliver the goals that have regularly run dry during previous campaigns for the best supported team in the country.

The local Chelsea — should that be Manchester City — Sundowns continue to defy logic by having a squad dripping with quality, and a trophy cabinet clouded by dust.

The former purveyors of quality football seem to have allowed money to go to their heads, and new coach Antonio Lopez Habas will again have his hands full managing the biggest squad in the land.

The likely loss of Siboniso Gaxa to Belgium will be offset by Vuyo Mere, but ‘Downs have been uncharacteristically shy in the transfer market.

Perhaps even Patrice is feeling the pinch?

Closer to home, Amazulu will look to Manqoba Mngqithi to help them kick on from last season’s encouraging exploits.

Indeed, with the Durbanites having shafted Neil Tovey for no significant reason, Mngqithi will have to justify the shake-up with a fair dose of the carpet football that was his trademark at former employers, Golden Arrows.

The Lamontville side has had a hectic transfer period, not least because of Mngqithi flying the nest.

The senseless antics of 29-year-old Siyabonga Sangweni have brought little joy for anyone concerned, not least the Bafana defender himself.

With both Chiefs and Pirates resigned to not getting their man, Sangweni will have to quickly swallow his pride if he plans on being a Bafana regular.

With Pitso Mosimane now in charge, the local league has the added incentive of impressing the coach every weekend, and not just when he happens to be in the country.

Mosimane is keen to build a national side that resonates with the man in the suit and also the man on the street.

Bafana’s recent win over Ghana was the blueprint for the league to follow.

The influx of foreign coaches may have muddled the theory somewhat, but one can only hope that this latest chapter of SA football marks a return to the grand old days of old-fashioned diski, with a good helping of quality goals.

The exploits of David Villa, Diego Forlan and Mezut Oezil thrilled the masses. Now it is time to see if our players were paying as much attention.

With Pitso Mosimane now in charge, the local league has the added incentive of impressing the coach every weekend, and not just when he happens to be in the country.

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