MTNFootball 2012/13 PSL Predictions!
The new Premier Soccer League season gets under way this weekend and MTNFootball.com makes a few predictions for the coming campaign.
Orlando Pirates will be going for a third successive championship success, something that Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United have both managed since the inception of the PSL in 1996/97.
With this likely to be the final domestic season that runs from August to May before the League reverts to the February-November calendar, there is another chance for history to be made.
Intriguingly, there looks to be as many as six or seven clubs who could lay claim to be genuine title contenders this season, evidence that the PSL is far from the two- or three-horses races that we see across Europe.
In fact, the title has been decided on the final day of the season in four of the last five years, thrilling ends that have grown the competitions reputation as the most watchable League in Africa.
Orlando Pirates will be the favourites given their recent trophy success that has seen them capture six titles out of eight in the last two seasons.
There work in the transfer market has been uninspiring, but they have managed to add depth to the squad and this could become important as the campaign wears on. Despite winning the League last season, the jury is also out on Peruvian coach Augusto Palacios and whether he can get the team to play well when the chips are down.
Mamelodi Sundowns have arguably the best squad of players in the PSL, but in the past have battled to get a sense of ‘togetherness’ within the team. Now in his second season with the club, Dutch coach Johan Neeskens will know a lot more about the domestic game and the often fragile temperament of the South African players. It is tough to spot a weakness in their make-up.
SuperSport United have also bought very well in the off-season, though the impending loss of Kermit Erasmus to Sweden is a blow. They definitely have the squad to be title contenders and coach Gavin Hunt will hope he does not have a repeat of last season’s crippling injury problems.
Last season’s runners-up Moroka Swallows may find it difficult to replicate their success now that they have lost coach Gordon Igesund to Bafana Bafana. They have kept continuity with Igesund’s assistant Zeca Marques now in charge, while the squad also remains largely the same. They are probably looking at top-six again.
Kaizer Chiefs fans may well be wondering what their season will bring following their 4-1 humiliation at the hands of Sundowns in the MTN8 quarterfinals on Sunday.
But having completely reshuffled the backline, it will take time for the players to gel and they are likely to get better as the campaign wears on.
They will just hope they are still in with a title shout when things do finally begin to click.
BidVest Wits are perhaps the most interesting club to look at this campaign, having bought superbly well in the transfer market and with a new coach in Antonio Habas, who replaced Roger de Sa.
They have added a lot of experience and international quality to their exciting young squad from last season and if they can get a fast start, expect them to be right up there among the leaders.
Ajax Cape Town have said they want a top five finish this season, but maybe top eight should be their target as they admitted at the same time that they will always be a selling club.
They have still not managed to replace Thulani Serero, who left for Ajax Amsterdam at the end of the 2010/11 season, while the further loss of George Maluleka ahead of this campaign is another bitter blow.
Bloemfontein Celtic had an up and down season last year and a clear-out of playing staff by coach Clinton Larsen is the close-season means we will see a very different Phunya Sele Sele this campaign.
They have potential to be a top five side, without having the quality in the striking department to be real title-challengers. Top eight is their minimum target though and even that might not be enough for Larsen.
AmaZulu have been very quiet in the transfer market and the loss of Thami Sangweni to Sundowns is a big blow to coach Roger Palmgren. They look a decent team of grafters, but might have to settle for the positions 8-12 this season.
State Stars managed a brilliant sixth-place last
season, but just about all of their star names have been snapped up by other
clubs. Coach Steve Komphela is one of the most astute in the PSL, and so he
will know about the tough challenge that lies ahead. Top eight will be a
Platinum Stars have brought in 13 new players as they seek to put behind them two disappointing campaigns in a row that have ended with 10th-place finishers. They have the impressive Cavin Johnson in charge now and look to have purchased well, mixing youth with PSL experience.
There big challenge is to break into the top-eight, but that might come a season too soon for this young squad.
United have made some top signings in the
close-season and are one of those teams that if they get on a run, could
surprise. They have the erratic Ernst Middendorp in charge though and so are
also as likely to plunge towards the relegation zone.
The same can be said for Lamontville Golden Arrows, who have lost some top talent in the close-season, mostly players who have returned to their parent clubs after loan spells.
They have brought in players from Latvia and Mali, who may take some time to settle in the PSL, and so are also a bit of an unknown this year. They could be in for a relegation scrap though.
Black Leopards beat the drop last season and then took South African fans on a delightful run through to the fourth round of the CAF Confederation Cup.
They will hope to take the experiences of last season and build on them for a better season in 2012/13, but you get the feeling they will be in the lower end of the table again.
University of Pretoria have a good coach in Steve Barker, but lack the financial muscle to adequately build a squad capable of pushing into the top half of the table. It could be a long season for them, and one that ultimately may end in disappointment.
Chippa United are one of the great fairytale stories of South African football, having risen from the third-tier to the top-flight in two seasons.
Just how they will cope now remains to be seen, but having been driven from their ‘fortress’ of the Philippi Stadium to the less hostile surrounds of the Cape Town Stadium and Athlone Stadium, they do not have much going for them.
Coach Manqoba Mngqithi has a great football brain, but is not necessarily the right man to lead a side in a relegation scrap. They could end up bottom of the pile.
MTNFootball.com’s Predicted Final 2012/13 PSL Table
1. Mamelodi Sundowns
2. SuperSport United
3. Orlando Pirates
4. BidVest Wits
5. Kaizer Chiefs
6. Ajax Cape Town
7. Moroka Swallows
8. Bloemfontein Celtic
9. Platinum Stars
10. Maritzburg United
11. Free State Stars
13. Lamontville Golden Arrows
14. Black Leopards
15. University of Pretoria
16. Chippa United