The ABSA premiership is upon us and all sixteen teams, including newcomers Baroka FC and Highlands Park have an equal chance at the title. Notwithstanding, as was the case in the past six seasons, one of Mamelodi Sundowns, Orlando Pirates or Kaizer Chiefs will be crowned champions, come May 2017. History has taught us that nothing is impossible in football, as Leicester City proved in the EPL last season. However, there are not many things that escape logic either.
It would be disrespectful to disregard Bidvest Wits. The students finished in the top four in as many successive seasons. Are they destined to be perennial bridesmaids? I think so. Gavin Hunt was brought to the team in order to win titles, especially this big one. The pressure on him to deliver on this project given the resource outlay is immense. How he manages this anxiety to get the best out of his exciting players will be the difference between success and failure.
Steve Khompela is in an even deeper hole. Unlike Gavin, he must also contend with the expectations of legions of Amakhosi supporters. In his first year in charge, Chiefs finished below second (fifth, to be specific) for the first time in four seasons. Not a palatable return for a team of this pedigree. While the support from management is welcome, Steve knows he can’t take this for granted. To stake his claim at the top table of coaches in this country, Steve MUST win something. What better way than to start with the league championship. The unprecedented wholesale changes at the end of last season maybe his way of stamping his authority on the team and escaping his predecessor’s shadow.
In his first year in charge, Chiefs finished below second (fifth, to be specific) for the first time in four seasons.
He may have failed to win the League title whilst at Chiefs or any other team in the Premier League, but Muhsin Ertugral ranks among the better coaches to visit our shores. His exploits at Aces last season is of stuff made at the movies. His appreciation of the game is commendable. He knows at a big club like Pirates, the mandate can never be less than a League title. More-so because Pirates bought well going into the 80th year and his task is to mould this talent into a winning machine. I suspect he can succeed. The seventh place last season was the first time the buccaneers finished outside the top four in four seasons. It would indeed be a special 80th birthday celebration for Pirates if Muhsin delivers this trophy.
Quality, character, discipline, and simply the best. Masandawa are miles ahead of the rest. Notwithstanding continental commitments, I still pick Sundowns to retain the title. Pitso knows that he has to start hard and refresh the team as the season progresses. It assists that he has the best backroom team to achieve this objective. It may well be that he may lose some players, but I doubt that this will affect the team. It is called natural attrition. Pitso also has a quality bench and boxed smart with additions to the team. That said, he must attend to the central defence pairing. The incumbents played above themselves last season and Pitso cannot expect the same going forward.
I wish all sixteen teams the best in their quest for Premiership honours.