Bidvest Wits open defence of Absa Premiership title

Bidvest Wits open defence of Absa Premiership title
Lebogang Manyama of Cape Town City FC evades challenge from Phumlani Ntshangase of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership 2016/17 football match between Cape Town City FC and Bidvest Wits at Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town on 19 April 2017 ©Chris Ricco/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Thursday Aug 17, 2017. 10:30

Bidvest Wits will open the defence of their Absa Premiership title with a home match against Cape Town City at Bidvest Stadium on 18 August 2017, kick-off at 20h00.

Wits claimed their first-ever league title last season by ending three points clear of Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the PSL log. It was a fourth championship for coach Gavin Hunt, who also claimed three successive titles at SuperSport United from 2008 to 2010. They also won the MTN8 to end the campaign with two major trophies.

The Clever Boys have not rested on their laurels in the offseason, strengthening their squad by signing the likes of former Bafana Bafana midfielders Steven Pienaar and Daylon Claasen, though they will still face a tough challenge in trying to defend their title.

One of those hoping to knock Wits off their perch is Cape Town City, who enjoyed a fantastic debut season in 2016/17 (after changing names and location from Mpumalanga Black Aces): the Citizens came home in third place and boasted the league’s Player of the Season and Golden Boot winner in Lebogang Manyama.

CTC also won the Telkom Knockout, but their season ended with the shock news that coach Eric Tinkler had decided to leave and take up the reins at SuperSport. In response, City appointed former Bafana Bafana star Benni McCarthy as their new coach, and how he fares in his first senior managerial role will be a fascinating narrative early in the new season.

Wits and City have met in just two previous league matches, both of which took place last season: in the first half of the campaign, CTC claimed a 3-2 win in Johannesburg thanks to a last-gasp goal from Manyama, while the return game in Cape Town ended 1-1. The Cape side was one of just two teams (the other being SuperSport) to hand the Clever Boys a home defeat in the league last term.

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