DStv Premiership clubs have sent out a strong message to Mamelodi Sundowns who have dominated the South African football scene for the last decade.
The Brazilians have been crowned league champions on 11 occasions since the inception of the PSL in the mid-’90s. They recently made history when they claimed their fourth title in a row. And it’s for this reason that several Premier Soccer League sides have declared war against the defending champions.
The DStv Premiership will kick-off this weekend with some mouthwatering fixtures. At the season launch held in Johannesburg, coaches from the different clubs converged under one roof as they look forward to another challenging season. For many of these teams, their one biggest challenge will be to stop the dominance of Sundowns. Maritzburg United coach, Ernst Middendorp, expressed his strong views on this matter.
“We have to stop this, we have to stop this as teams, we all respect a team like Sundowns. We respect the individual quality, the coaching staff, the competence they have with players – they have available, they can play so flexible but you can’t go into a season and say how many points are we behind Sundowns.”
Although they are generally slow starters, they have mastered the craft of being strong finishers. Whilst they have gone on to win every other trophy on offer, they are yet to win the MTN-8. Co-coach, Rulani Mokwena, came out boldly that they have a responsibility to bring home the first domestic cup of the season. Their chances have been increased. They recently brushed aside bitter rivals Kaizer Chiefs in the first round.
“As a big club, we have a responsibility to win every match, ours is to make sure that the team is ready to compete in all the forefronts and make sure we get into the right spaces, at the end of the day and this is what we have said to ourselves our goal is to win every single match and when we tell ourselves that the next match is important, the next match is the one we have to win. We know that when our minds are right and focused it’s very difficult for people to stop us.”
Chiefs mentor, Stuat Baxter, is expecting a more competitive season than the previous one, while Orlando Pirates coach, Fadlu Davids, says there are more clubs that have the potential to challenge for league honours.
“I think it’s going to be a tight league, I think that is where we are going, the league is developing all the time I think some of the teams will be disappointed with their season last year including us. They have tried to push the boat out a bit.”
Davids says, “It’s eleven against eleven and that is what the PSL has shown that big club or small club anyone can, so I expect this season to be more even on the playing field and that gives you direction to go for every match, to go for the three points.”
New kids on the block Sekhukhnune United will be under the microscope alongside Royal AM who just acquired the status of Bloemfontein Celtic.
Also under the spotlight will be Marumo Gallants, formerly known as Tshakhuma Tsha Mazhivandila. They recently appointed French coach Sebastien Migne.