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New coaches will be out to settle old scores

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PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns are set to begin their title defence against the team they pipped for the crown on the final day of last season, Kaizer Chiefs.

Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

A humdinger of a curtain raiser awaits in the inaugural DStv Premiership season on October 24 as champions Mamelodi Sundowns are set to begin their title defence against the team they pipped for the crown on the final day of last season, Kaizer Chiefs.

As Sundowns won the championship on the last day of the season, that marked their record 10th Premiership title since the installation of the NSL in 1996 – they became the first team in the top-flight to add a star below their crest.

Sundowns’ championship last season also marked their historic third title in a row and fifth for former coach Pitso Mosimane during his seven-and-a-half-year reign at the club

However, a new era awaits for the Brazilians as they’ll be without Mosimane from the start of the new season, with the 56-year-old having resigned to take over the reins at Africa Club of the Century, Al Ahly SC, two weeks ago.

Nonetheless, all is not lost for Sundowns. Club president Patrice Motsepe has made swift strides in ensuring that the winning legacy that Mosimane has built over the years doesn’t go up in smoke.

He’s appointed Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena, who were Jingles’ right-hand men, as joint coaches.

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi. Picture: Aubrey Kgakatsi, BackpagePix

The pair boast experience as head coaches. Mngqithi, before surfacing at Sundowns in 2012, had been around the block, having coached Golden Arrows, where he won the MTN8 crown in 2009, AmaZulu and Chippa United.

Arguably the most prominent upcoming-and-coming coach in South African football, Mokwena has seen the good and bad that comes with sitting at the hot seat in the big three in the country, following a roller-coaster stint as interim coach at Orlando Pirates last season.

But while the opening day of the DStv Premiership season is two weeks away, Mngqithi and Mokwena will be hoping to continue with the club’s culture of winning in style when they meet Bloemfontein Celtic, the team Sundowns defeated in the Nedbank Cup final 1-0, in the MTN8 quarter-finals on October 18.

If they get a win in that match, Sundowns will be full of confidence when they meet Chiefs in their first league match of the season.

Amakhosi, after that poor ending, are also turning over a new leaf, having appointed coach Gavin Hunt as their new commander in chief.

Hunt took over the reins at Chiefs and has been tasked to bring back the glory days as the club has not won a trophy in five years; this fact was made so much more painful by their epic fail on the last day of the season, which ultimately resulted in the dismissal of coach Ernst Middendorp.

Hunt’s job is cut out for him as he might have to structure his team for next season around the current crop of players. Chiefs are still waiting for the outcome of their appeal from the Court of Arbitration of Sport after being sanctioned to a season long transfer ban by Fifa, following irregularities during the signing of Arohasina Andrianarimanana.

Hunt, a multiple championship winning coach, will however know there’s no time to sulk and moan.

The 56-year-old coach, therefore, has to hit the ground running in the MTN8 against Maritzburg United on October 18 and Premiership opener against the Brazilians on October 24 at home, FNB Stadium (3:30pm kick-off).