It’s been a while since Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns spoke with one voice: ‘We have what it takes to challenge for all the top honours compared to the previous seasons.’
THE NEW Premier Soccer League (PSL) season will, again, begin behind closed doors this weekend, resulting in deafening silence at the stadiums. But if the hype around the preparations of the “big three” during the off-season is anything to go by, then we are in for a blockbuster campaign.
Well, this is not only a gut feeling. In fact, far from it. It’s been a while since Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns spoke with one voice: “We have what it takes to challenge for all the top honours compared to the previous seasons.”
Each team, one way or the other, had an excuse. Chiefs recently complained about a one-year transfer ban. Pirates bemoaned how they were still in a building process. Sundowns lamented the struggles of juggling between pre-season and African football.
But the three teams head into the MTN8 campaign tomorrow and Sunday with a sense of belief that they could only be their worst enemy. Of course, Pirates are poised to have more pressure given that they are the champions under coach Josef Zinnbauer.
The fact that Chiefs and Sundowns haven’t won the trophy for the last six and 14 years doesn’t mean that they are spared. Chiefs are under more pressure given that the MTN8 was one of the two trophies they won in 2015 under coach Stuart Baxter.
The British-born coach has since returned for his second spell at Amakhosi; tasked to return the club to glory days in domestic football after that six-year hiatus. But does he still have the mettle like he did in his first three years where he won a quartet?
I’ll be on the fence for this one; but that he believes once their newbies gel into the team they can knock Sundowns off their perch was quite appealing to the ear. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and Baxter clearly knows that.
He’s promising the Amakhosi faithful that they’ll give it their all, not hiding behind the “we’ll take some time to adapt given the misfortunes of the past” talk. By doing so, he has challenged Sundowns to plug their holes if their dominance is set to continue.
This has made for a great anticipation to the two teams’ clash in the last-eight of the Wafa Wafa Cup on Sunday. Last season, Sundowns came out tops when the two teams clashed in a league opener – and built on from that momentum to win a fourth title in a row.
And this term, with a dash of the new additions in the squad, there’s nothing that should stop Sundowns from collecting another domestic treble. After all, they’ve had a fully-fledged pre-season compared to before, albeit niggling injuries to key players.
Sundowns’ co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi is pleased with their pre-season preparations. And so is Zinnbauer and Baxter, given that the Bucs haven’t changed much in their squad also, while Chiefs made quality signings. And that is why the games can begin.