Friday Aug 05, 2022. 11:00
South Africa’s DStv Premiership returns this weekend with the opening round of the 2022-23 season, as Mamelodi Sundowns look to get off to a flying start in their quest to continue a ruthless and relentless domination.
The Brazilians have won five successive Premiership titles – and six in the past seven seasons – to firmly establish themselves as the dominant force in South African football. So much so, that domestic league and cup titles are considered ‘regulation’ for the Tshwane club, with the push to claim a second CAF Champions League crown now their driving ambition.
Fans of the Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates – who respectively finished in positions five and six on the log last term – will hope that their teams can end the champions’ streak.
However, ‘Downs co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi sees Cape Town City – last season’s runners-up and the Brazilians’ opponents in the season-opener at Cape Town Stadium on Friday evening – as well as the likes of Stellenbosch FC and the ambitious Royal AM as bigger threats.
“The teams who are in direct competition [with Sundowns] at this stage are Cape Town City, Stellenbosch and Royal AM,” he explained..
“These teams have been progressing very well as the seasons go by, and I still expect them to cause a lot of problems.
“Other teams still have to fight to improve their positions from six to three, and others have to fight to move into the top half of the table.
“I see that Pirates and Chiefs have signed a lot of good players. I understand that it takes a little bit longer for the team to gel when it’s got a lot of new faces.”
Pirates will open their campaign with arguably the pick of the weekend’s matches, as they welcome Soweto rivals Swallows FC to Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon, while another mouth-watering clash sees Royal AM take on Chiefs at Chatsworth Stadium.
Royal were the surprise package of last season, with the well-funded top-flight rookies (who bought out Bloemfontein Celtic’s status) coming home in third place and bloodying the nose of more established powers along the way – including the Amakhosi, whom they beat both home and away.
Chiefs, who endured another disappointing campaign, have handed the coaching reins to Arthur Zwane on a permanent basis, and the former winger has admitted that his team is still on the hunt for a striker in the transfer market.
“It’s key for us to get a number nine, but unfortunately, it’s difficult at the moment to get the type of striker we are looking for,” said the Chiefs mentor. “Those we have identified are not on the market, with their teams unwilling to sell.
“We have been attending pre-season tournaments, and have been watching the CHAN Tournament, while watching all the games that took place in KZN.
“We also have been watching the qualifying games, the World Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations. So, it’s difficult, those who we are interested in, like Musa Kamara, we are still finding it difficult to bring him over.”
Saturday also features a top-flight debut for last season’s GladAfrica Championship winners Richards Bay, who will be away to provincial rivals Golden Arrows, as well as Marumo Gallants at home to Stellenbosch, and Maritzburg United welcoming Sekhukhune United for a night clash at Harry Gwala Stadium.
Sunday opens with AmaZulu visiting TS Galaxy at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg, and the round closes out with SuperSport United hosting Chippa United at Lucas Moripe Stadium.
DStv Premiership fixtures, 5-7 August
All times CAT
Friday 5 August
19:30: Cape Town City v Mamelodi Sundowns
Saturday 6 August
15:00: Golden Arrows v Richards Bay
15:00: Orlando Pirates v Swallows FC
15:00: Marumo Gallants v Stellenbosch FC
17:30: Royal AM v Kaizer Chiefs
20:00: Maritzburg United v Sekhukhune United
Sunday 7 August
15:00: TS Galaxy v AmaZulu
17:30: SuperSport United v Chippa United