Kaizer Chiefs are the first major club to have their credentials tested as they travel to face the defending champions in the league opener on Saturday.
Chiefs have a new look and feel to them after the arrival of Giovanni Solinas in the Naturena hot seat, a welcome change following the stagnation under Steve Komphela.
Solinas’ arrival together with the addition of playmaker Khama Billiat, who joined in the offseason from Sundowns, have the Amakhosi’s faithful fan base in much brighter spirits. The result Saturday’s fixture, while important, is far from crucial as fast starts do not yield trophies. Fans of both clubs, the champions themselves under some pressure after an indifferent start to their CAF Champions League adventure, will be looking for a signal of intent as the country’s top prize has many possible destinations.
It won’t get any easier for Chiefs, who host league winners two season’s ago Bidvest Wits, in their second outing. A slow start for Solinas could prove fatal as he looks to win the support of his new fans, who’ve gone tired of watching their rivals pull away in the title race.
Cape Town City, who have done some shrewd work in the transfer market, host fellow challengers SuperSport United in their first outing with the visitors desperately seeking consistency after a middle of the pack finish last year which included the surprise departure of Eric Tinkler.
Tinkler’s replacement in Cape Town, Benni McCarthy, has been impressive and will look to take his side up a level after a year’s experience in the job. The Mother City club is one of the big winners in the transfer market with young playmaker Gift Links one to watch.
Arguably the side with the best chance of toppling Sundowns are Orlando Pirates, who have built up a head of steam under Milutin Sredojevic.
The Serbian has settled in his role and has been given freedom to recruit with the Buccaneers one of the busiest clubs in the market.
Now it’s up to Sredojevic to provide results as he looks to pay back the faith shown in him by the club’s board and their eagerness to spend in order to once again challenge for the title they lost won in 2012.
While the focus on the top of the log paints a fascinating picture, there is likely to be even more drama at the bottom of the pile where Black Leopards, Amazulu, Highlands Park and Polokwane City all look to ready to fight for another season in the top flight.
The race for the Golden Boot is likely to be another big talking point as the season winds its way towards the December break as the wait for a 20 goal striker continues.
Billiat is one player who has been earmarked for the honour with Pirates players Augestine Mulenga and Justin Shonga, further candidates. Jeremy Brockie’s place in the Sundowns starting lineup remains up for debate after his barren start to life at Chloorkop but as his new teammates find their feet, Brockie may just find the net and tick off two boxes at once.
Following the legal drama of Ajax Cape Town’s PSL status, its time for the players to shift the focus from the courtroom to the pitches around the country another season of thrills and spills begins.