With the new Premier Soccer League season starting with the MTN8 quarter-finals over the weekend, SoccerClub writer DEAN WORKMAN ringfences the players to watch.
Defending champions SuperSport United take on the new boys in the league, Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila, on Saturday afternoon while Orlando Pirates will do battle with Cape Town City later.
Kaizer Chiefs kick off the action on Sunday as they take on Maritzburg United and then the treble-winners from last season, Mamelodi Sundowns, face the team they beat in last season’s Nedbank Cup final, Bloemfontein Celtic.
Here are the players to keep an eye on as football returns to action in South Africa:
SuperSport United vs TTM
Tebogo Mokena: The young midfielder has show tremendous progression over the past couple of seasons and now, with Dean Furman no longer at the club, Mokena will need to step up further and continue to stamp his authority.
Fresh off the back of his first run-out with the senior national team, Mokena will be full of confidence and could well run the show against TTM.
Orlando Pirates vs Cape Town City
Thulani Hlasthwayo: The newly-signed centre back has been a target of the Soweto giants for a number of years and, after finally making the move, the Bafana Bafana captain will be looking to hit the ground running.
Pirates have been an attacking force over the last few seasons but notoriously shaky at the back.
Tyson will be looking to bring in his leadership and defensive strength as they start against a team who were scoring freely at the back end of last season.
Kaizer Chiefs vs Maritzburg United
Khama Billiat: The former Mamelodi Sundowns attacker hasn’t been at his best for some time now, but following the arrival of Gavin Hunt at Naturena, and with the club still facing a transfer ban, Billiat will be hoping to hit form early on.
With both Leonardo Castro and Samir Nurkovic out of the game through injury, Billiat will need to stand up and make the difference for his side as Hunt’s tenure at Chiefs begins.
Mamelodi Sundowns vs Bloem Celtic
Kermit Erasmus: Having just arrived from Cape Town City FC, Erasmus will be hoping for a fast start at a club blessed with a squad packed with talent.
The diminutive forward was on fire at the back end of last season, scoring goals for fun, and he will be hoping he can continue in that vein with his new side.
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