With the new season starting a week before the close of the transfer window, it is tough to get a read on exactly where the clubs stand, considering that last-minute additions could still be made.
There has already been a host of Absa Premiership signings, but Sibusiso Vilakazi’s move to Mamelodi Sundowns tops the list.
The 26-year-old midfielder arrived from Bidvest Wits saying he was enticed by the prospect of more regular first-team football – particularly CAF Champions League – and, most importantly, the chance to work with Pitso Mosimane.
Sundowns have now set their eyes on another Bafana player, Anele Ngcongca, as well as Bloemfontein Celtic’s Thapelo Morena, who has already made it clear he wants out of the club.
The Brazilians have also gone back to South America for a Brazilian defender, Ricardo Nascimento. And they’re after Lucky Mohomi from Free State Stars.
But while it looks like Sundowns were the biggest winners, Wits can also claim victory for capturing Mogakolodi Ngele and Cuthbert Malajila, both of whom travelled the other direction from the Vila move.
The two Wits acquisitions will definitely intensify Gavin Hunt’s title challenge next season.
Wits have also signed Eleazar Rodgers from Platinum Stars, and have Gabadinho Mhango back from Golden Arrows – where he was on loan.
Hunt has reinforced his last line of defence with the arrival of their former goalkeeper Darren Keet from Belgium.
Along with James Keene and Daine Klate, Wits should be a title contender.
Rookies Highlands Park have seemingly pulled off the coup of the transfer market so far by luring last season’s top scorer Collins Mbesuma from Aces and Charlton Mashumba from Jomo Cosmos.
Allan Freese has been busy in the transfer market, bringing in midfielders Thanduyise Khuboni and Eddie Ngalo.
Orlando Pirates have been the busiest of all the Premiership clubs, recruiting no less than 10 players.
The arrival of Muhsin Ertugral has coincided with the acquisition of a few players. Pirates raided Ajax Cape Town for Abbubaker Mobara and Riyaad Norodien; Baroka FC for Thabiso Kutumela and Donald Mokondelela; and Free State Stars for Justice Chabalala, Ayanda Nkosi and Sello Japhta.
The club have lured former Stars assistant coach Bradley Carnell to Ertugral’s number two position. They have also roped in renowned youth coach Zipho Dlangalala.
After a massive clear out in the off season, Kaizer Chiefs brought in former Mamelodi Sundowns captain Ramahlwe Mphahlele‚ Zimbabweans Edmore Chirambadare and Michelle Katsvairo‚ midfielders Enocent Mkhabela and Sibusiso Khumalo‚ Zambian striker Lewis Macha‚ Keagan Buchanan from Bloemfontein Celtic, and young striker Emmanuel Letlotlo to the team. They recruited Ryan Moon from Maritzburg United and promoted Siyabonga Ngezana this week.
It is hard to predict which way another newcomer, Baroka, will go. The players they signed were of questionable quality and lacked Premier League experience. Their only recruit who has any experience remains Uganda captain Geofrey Massa, who joined from Celtic.
Stuart Baxter has made his intentions of winning the championship with SuperSport United known. He raided his former club Chiefs for Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Keegan Ritchie and Reyaad Pieterse.
Matsatsantsa have also brought in former University of Pretoria winger Thabo Mnyamane and Cole Alexander from Polokwane City.
Chippa United have added former AmaZulu defender Mark van Heerden to their squad list, and Platinum Stars have unveiled 13 new signings. These include veteran hitman Henrico Botes and goalkeeper Steven Hoffman.
Golden Arrows coach Clinton Larsen raided his former side Celtic for familiar faces such as Lerato Lamola and Wayde Jooste, in the hope that he can bring out the best in them.
After dicing with relegation for the better part of last season, Maritzburg United have bolstered their squad with experienced men Andréa Fileccia, Bryce Moon and Bevan Fransman.
United coach Ernst Middendorp knows a good start sets the tone for the rest of the season and has gone for experience.
After finishing a disappointing campaign in 11th place, Bloemfontein Celtic have taken the necessary steps to bolster the squad. Serame Letsoaka will turn to the likes of Cheslyn Jampies and Khethokwakhe Masuku to turn their fortunes around.
Perennial relegation candidates Polokwane City not only brought in a new coach – Luc Eymael – but they have also raided the market.
Former Sundowns striker Rodney Ramagalela headlines City’s signings. Walter Maponyane has also joined
from Chippa United.
The uncertainty surrounding Free State Stars has already destabilised the side, and they once again battled to keep their best.
Stars have lost four of their key players from last season and have also been slow on the market. Now that the deal to sell the club is officially off, the sooner they raid the market, the better for their future.
While the signings that clubs have made – on paper – look smart, you never know how they will pan out.