Chiefs a real threat to champs

By Mark Gleeson

It is much too early to be forecasting the outcome of this season’s DStv Premiership, but Sunday’s clash between champions Mamelodi Sundowns and a rejuvenated Kaizer Chiefs should give a good indicator as to who will make the early season running.

Both clubs are obvious contenders for the title this season. Chiefs are back in contention after a dreadful last campaign and looking capable of giving Sundowns a strong challenge.

The return of Stuart Baxter as coach has much to do with that, as well as their new signings, who ironically were mostly procured by previous coach Gavin Hunt.

Baxter did a good psychological job on Sundowns a month ago, even if Chiefs were eliminated in the MTN8 by the Brazilians on penalties. Opposing coach Manqoba Mngqithi was effusive in his praise for Chiefs afterwards because they had fought back from 2-0 down to level the game.

With Keegan Dolly getting fitter and Lebogang Manyama ready to return, there are more options for Chiefs now, while Sundowns have had many players away on international duty and will be concerned about fatigue.

Chiefs are therefore well placed to floor the champions, who are chasing an unprecedented fifth successive PSL title.

Saturday sees Orlando Pirates seeking their first win of the new campaign as they clash with Swallows FC again.

It was after that 2-1 away win for the Birds at the Orlando Stadium in the MTN8 last month that coach Joe Zinnbauer quit and Pirates’ fans are waiting to see who will replace him.

In the meantime, they have drawn their opening two league matches of the season and looked far from convincing.

The Pirates-Swallows clash headlines Saturday’s carryover Soccer 10 pool, which starts with R150,000 in the pot and could soar over R2 million. And then on Sunday the Loftus clash has pride of place in a R100,000 carryover Soccer 10 pool. It’s a great weekend to bet Soccer 10 because the payouts could be explosive!

HIRED/FIRED: Orlando Pirates have signed two new players from West Africa - defender Olisa Ndah and striker Kwame Perpah. Both could turn out against Swallows FC on Saturday.

MISSING: Leonard Castro has had surgery on a glute injury and misses joining Chiefs teammates Khama Billiat and Keegan Dolly as they go up against their old club Sundowns on Sunday.

BACK IN ACTION: A hat-trick for Gareth Bale for Wales in World Cup action last weekend has enhanced his chances of playing for Real Madrid again when they meet Celta Vigo on Sunday.

WHO’S HOT: Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips has made 16 appearances within the first 12 months of his England career, two more than any other player.

WHO’S COLD: New club Royal AM, basically Bloemfontein Celtic in disguise, have lost both games in the new DStv Premiership season since making the move to KwaZulu-Natal.