Absa Premiership

Mamelodi Sundowns vs Kaizer Chiefs Preview | Saturday 4 August | Loftus Versfeld Stadium | 15:00

Defending champions, Mamelodi Sundowns, host Kaizer Chiefs on the opening day of the 2018/19 Premier Soccer League season. Giovanni Solinas’ first league match in charge of Amakhosi sees him face off against Pitso Mosimane’s star-studded Masandawana outfit at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium. The Absa Premiership champions last tasted a league defeat on the 13th of January when they suffered a 3-1 loss to Orlando Pirates. After failing to beat Amakhosi in their title-winning season, how will Masandawana fare when they face a new and improved Kaizer Chiefs?

To win
Mamelodi Sundowns 11/10
Draw 26/10
Kaizer Chiefs 2/1

Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns won their third league title under coach Pitso Mosimane, doing it in a rather bizarre way, after collecting more points on the road than at home, including five defeats in front of the Masandawana faithful.

The Tshwane giants came out victorious when these two sides last met a fortnight ago in the Shell Ultra Helix Cup, a newly formed pre-season tournament. The biggest talking point after that match was Jeremy Brockie, after the New Zealand international scored his first ever goal in a Sundowns shirt.

The team bagged a decisive victory, doing it without their star man Percy Tau – who has been signed by Premier League side Brighton. Meanwhile, the youngster, Sphelele Mkhulise, came to the fore with a superb performance in the match.

Coach Jingles’ side will be breaming with confidence ahead of this game after playing two CAF Champions League games against AS Togo-Port in July.

I’m expecting Mamelodi Sundowns to dominate the PSL once again because their ambitions are much bigger than other club in the division. Their recruitments of players and backroom staff are African oriented and they have people who understand and study continental football. You can see that they hire to conquer Africa by bringing quality players from all over the world. Simply put, their targets are way higher than that of Amakhosi.

The Kabo Yellow defence will have to be at their utmost best when they face former teammates Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro. If they can keep them quiet, Mamelodi Sundowns will be one step closer to victory. For me, that’s where the game can be won or lost for the Tshwane outfit.

Kaizer Chiefs

Kaizer Chiefs are opening up their 2018/19 league campaign against Mamelodi Sundowns away from home in a game that is incredibly important for new coach Giovanni Solinas to make a statement.

The Soweto giants will look to put their Shell Helix Ultra Cup defeat behind them, having lost 2-1 against the same opposition. Masandawana’s January signing, Brockie, and Themba Zwane put Downs in the lead in the 52nd and 89th minute.

Later in stoppage time, Bernard Parker pulled one back for the Glamour Boys. The game stayed that way until full-time as Chiefs lost their first Shell Helix Ultra Cup encounter.

Interim coach, Patrick Mabedi, was heavily criticized by the Amakhosi supporters for not starting Siphelele Ntshangase and Kabelo Mahlasela, who both joined the club in January. The Amakhosi fans, who are known to be impatient, wasted no time and called for Mabedi’s head on social media.

This time around, I’m expecting a much more improved Kaizer Chiefs team, and, they did beat Mamelodi Sundowns when they last met in Tshwane. Amakhosi always attract a good crowd at Loftus and I’m expecting them to dominate the grand stand once again.

Signing Billiat was obviously a good thing for Amakhosi but I feel they needed more than him and after what happened at the Moses Mabhida Stadium. I expected Chiefs to sign players like Mosa Lebusa, Abel Mabaso, Vincent Pule and Lebogang Manyama just to show that their priority is to win the league.

Kaizer Chiefs do have a very good line-up that can upset anyone in the league with players like Itumeleng Khune, Ramahlwe Mphahlele‚ Daniel Cardoso, Willard Katsande, Siphiwe Tshabalala and Billiat who are arguably the best in their positions. However, to win the league you need more than just a good line-up due to inevitable things that happen throughout the season like suspensions, injuries and players losing form.

Probable line-ups:

Mamelodi Sundowns: 4-4-1-1

Onyango; Morena, Nascimento, Arendse, Langerman; Mabunda, Kekana, Manyisa, Zwane; Sirino; Vilakazi.

Kaizer Chiefs: 4-5-1

Khune; Mphahlele‚ Cardoso, Mathoho, Zulu; Katsande, Mahlasela, Ntshangase, Tshabalala, Billiat; Castro.

Prediction: Kaizer Chiefs Win (2/1)

While Both Teams to Score is almost a certainty, I’m also backing Billiat and Castro to upset their old employers. Amakhosi players are more desperate and hungry coming into this game following what happened last season at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, and with Solinas keen to make a positive start, my money is on the visitors here, although keeping a clean sheet might prove to be a task to tough to master at first attempt. Back Chiefs here at a valuable 2/1.

Banele Pikwa

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