The 2023/24 DStv Premiership season kicks off on Friday, with clubs this week wrapping up their pre-season preparations ahead of what is expected to be another cracking campaign.
With Marumo Gallants and Maritzburg United in the Motsepe Foundation Championship this time around, Smiso Msomi takes a look at four potential candidates for relegation in the upcoming season.
Head Coach: Duncan Lechesa
Last Season: Promoted as second-tier champions
Polokwane City completed a miraculous final day victory to secure their promotion back into the elite league last season, but now face the harsh reality of battling to keep their top-flight status.
City will quickly realise that the level has risen higher than when they departed three years ago.
In their attempts to strengthen ahead of the new season, City have made eight new signings, but of their new arrivals, only Given Mashikinya has top-flight experience from his time with Sekhukhune United.
It’s why City still look the most likely to suffer the dreaded drop.
Last Season: Promoted through promotion-relegation playoffs
The fairytale return of Spurs was welcomed by history-loving football supporters around the country.
The club have also not rested on their laurels by sticking to their identity of blending the brightest young talents in the country with ‘street-wise’ experience.
Spurs have managed to once again secure loan deals for Boitumelo Radiopane from Orlando Pirates and Luvuyo Phewa and Siyanda Msani from Mamelodi Sundowns, while permanently signing Keagan Buchanan.
While a great deal of nostalgia surrounds Cape Town Spurs, the competitive nature of the top-flight suggests
Spurs will have to prove their pedigree against the big-hitters and momentarily places them amongst the most likely to suffer the dreaded drop.
Head Coach: Kaitano Tembo
Last Season: 13th
The new season will see the ultimate survival test arrive at the Natal Rich Boyz’s doorstep, having already tasted the difficulties of shaking off bad form in the top-flight.
Following an impressive first round in the Premiership, Richards Bay went on a frightening 11-match streak without a win during the return fixtures – a set of results that saw them fall from second on the standings all the way into a relegation battle.
The KwaZulu-Natal outfit have sought to address their issues of inexperience, grit and top-flight knowledge with the appointment of former SuperSport United mentor Kaitano Tembo, alongside well-travelled personnel like Thabani Dube (Kaizer Chiefs), Lucky Mohomi and Letsie Koapeng (both Marumo Gallants).
The club’s lack of a primary goal-scorer, as well as a constantly reshuffled backline will impact their fight for a place beyond their 13th position of last season, which still places them in relegation danger.
Head Coach: Morgan Mammila
Last Season: 14th
The survival of Chippa United in the top-flight for the past 10 seasons can never be put down to a single valid reason, with a host of hirings, firings, replacements, rehirings, redeployments and interim positions constantly dominating the headlines.
The Chilli Boys have been involved in the relegation battles for eight seasons of their decade-long stay in the top league, which makes it no surprise that they are featured in the upcoming season’s list of candidates as well.
Coach Lehlonolo Seema was roped in to save Gqeberha-based Chippa in the final leg of last season before being released after having secured the club’s status – a fitting example of the club’s crude business approach.
Although Chippa United have bolstered their squad with top-notch mature players like Luvuyo Memela and Augustine Mulenga, Chippa are expected to battle at the bottom towards the latter stages of the season, and possibly succumb this time around.