S'Busiso Mseleku

Let the fun begin!

2017-08-18 14:03
S'Busiso Mseleku.
The Absa Premiership - by extension the Premier Soccer league (PSL) - season kicks off earnestly this weekend.

However, we have already had a taste of things to come with the MTN8 quarter-finals being played this past weekend.

Already the teasing - known as ukugwarana or ukujovana - in township parlance, went into overdrive following some shocking results from the weekend.

Orlando Pirates have been a butt of all jokes since the end of the past season after finishing in 11th position and failing to lift a single piece of silverware.

Despite their club not laying their hands on any trophy either, the Kaizer Chiefs myriad of followers had a field day, feasting in their arch-rivals' supporters that at least they had a chance to remedy the situation after finishing fourth on the log and thus qualifying for the MTN8 competition.

However, come last Saturday evening, Amakhosi were embarrassingly bundled out of the competition via a 1-0 loss to SuperSport United.

This opened a Pandora’s Box - if not a can of worms - for Amakhosi with the Buccaneers supporters now pointing out that Chiefs only made it to last 90 minutes in the competition and were only going to earn R800 000 for their efforts.

You see, the MTN8 has this strange “winner-takes-all” set-up where only the eventual champions pocket a mouth-watering cheque of R8 million while all the other participants - including the losing finalists - only get a measly R800 000.

Right through to Sunday afternoon, when Mamelodi Sundowns also joined those on the proverbial South African football Wall of Shame, thanks to their unexpected 1-0 loss to Maritzburg United, Chiefs were trending for all the wrong reasons.

The results started with Bidvest Wits beating Lamontville Golden Arrows via a penalty shootout, Cape Town City handing new coach Benni McCarthy his maiden PSL win by virtue of a 1-0 result over Polokwane City on Saturday meant that Wits will play Cape Town City, while SuperSport United and Maritzburg United will contest the second semi-final.

Such are the vagaries of football.

So this Friday, the season kicks off in earnest with the 22nd PSL season, meaning a rollercoaster ride for fans that will end with the crowning of the champion in May.

There are a number of questions that are usually posed at the beginning of the season.

One of them this time around is: Can Wits defend their league title, their first one in 92 years of existence?

Other questions are:

Will the Soweto giants - Chiefs and Pirates - rise from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix and reclaim some of their lost glory by lifting at least a cup each?

Who are the players who will raise their hands and be stars of the coming season?

Will Mamelodi Sundowns reclaim their glory and conquer the local and continental football scene once more?

But one of the most burning questions, which many soccer pundits will find it even hard to bet on, is: Who will be the first coach to bite the dust?

Anyone who knows a little bit about football knows that there is no job on earth that is as insecure as that of a football coach.

It will also be interesting to see how newcomers such as McCarthy and Fadlu Davids (Maritzburg), Bernard Molekwa (Polokwane) and Peter Butler (Platinum Stars) settle in their new environments.

Much as I am reluctant to enter the debate on which clubs will be relegation candidates, expect AmaZulu, Baroka FC, the two Free State clubs, Free State Stars and Bloemfontein Celtic, to be somewhere there in the mix.

Let the games begin!

S'Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning over 30 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

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The 2018/19 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

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