Absa Premiership

Let the games begin again

2017-02-05 06:03
REUNITED: Stuart Baxter and Mandla Masango have reunited at SuperSport United. (Dirk Kotze, Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Well, at long last the wait is over as the local football league is set to resume on Tuesday.

Locals have been starved for action as a result of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, but the boredom will be a thing of the past as the teams go on a final home stretch that is the second round of the league programme.

If anything, the second round means there won’t be any room for error as clubs either vie for top spots or to survive the chop.

There are already some mouth-watering clashes to look forward to.

Without a doubt, the game most supporters are anticipating is on Saturday when defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns welcome Orlando Pirates at Loftus.

This is the first clash of the season between these two sides and the game should give an indication of how prepared the sides are for the home stretch.

Relegation dogfight

But before this clash, the two have some tricky fixtures to negotiate on Wednesday evening.

Sundowns are away at Bloemfontein Celtic and Pirates are also on the road to Platinum Stars.

With fixtures going to come thick and fast for Sundowns as they are way behind schedule, this will test Pitso Mosimane’s players’ resolve.

It is at the bottom end of the log where clubs will be fighting for survival. The second half of the season should be as much entertaining as demanding, if not more.

The contest is so tight that any side could still be dragged into the relegation dogfight as only a few points separate teams.

Fortunately, the lengthy Christmas break combined with the Afcon recess have given clubs a chance to reinforce their squads as they prepare for the second-half onslaught.

Log leaders SuperSport United have reunited Mandla Masango with his former Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter as they look to strengthen the side ahead of the gruelling second half.

Opposite direction

Masango joined a growing long list of former Chiefs players at United which include Morgan Gould, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Keegan Ritchie, Tefu Mashamaite and Reyaad Pieterse.

In the process, United released Togolese international Dové Womé to Orlando Pirates on loan until the end of the season.

After experiencing mixed fortunes in the opening half, Pirates did not waste time in recalling exciting young midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch from Chippa United.

They also raided the Chilli Boys for defenders James Okwuosa and Marc van Heerden.

Okwuosa and Lorch are expected to form the nucleus of the Bucs team while Van Heerden will be a cover at left-back.

These moves saw Justice Chabalala, Donald Mokondelela and Sello Japhta going in the opposite direction while Nkosinathi Mthiyane and Siphamandla Sangweni joined Golden Arrows and University of Pretoria, respectively.

Title contenders, Bidvest Wits brought former Ajax Cape Town captain Granwald Scott on board as they look to consolidate their position on the log.

Having the CAF Champions League to contend with, this could be too taxing for Gavin Hunt’s men as they fight on three fronts – Absa Premiership, Nedbank Cup and for the continental glory.

Chiefs, who have signed Venezuelan striker Gustavo Páez, are hoping to continue where they left off before the break after notching back-to-back victories over Polokwane City and Golden Arrows.


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Friday, 19 January 2018
Wits v Bloemfontein Celtic, Bidvest Stadium 20:00
Saturday, 20 January 2018
Cape Town City FC v Ajax Cape Town, Cape Town Stadium 15:30
Free State Stars v Maritzburg United, Goble Park 15:30
Mamelodi Sundowns v Platinum Stars, Loftus Versfeld Stadium 18:00
AmaZulu FC v SuperSport United, King Zwelithini Stadium 20:15
Orlando Pirates v Polokwane City, Orlando Stadium 20:15
Sunday, 21 January 2018
Chippa United v Golden Arrows, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 15:30
Baroka FC v Kaizer Chiefs, Peter Mokaba Stadium 15:30
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The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

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