The move up to the top flight is never an easy one for a promoted club like Stellenbosch FC. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – The 2019-20 PSL season kicks off this weekend and as usual the 16 teams will all be striving to remain in the elite league.

What cannot be avoided is that the club that finishes bottom of the standings will be relegated to the NFD, while the 15th-placed team will have to try retain and their top-flight status via the relegation/promotion playoffs.

Our soccer writers Minenhle Mkhize and Mihlali Baleka believe there are four sides worthy of the relegation candidates tag. They explain why below.

Bloemfontein Celtic

Granted no one player makes a team, but there are some individuals so crucial to their team’s success that their absence is bound to have a negative impact. Cameroonian goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb is one such player for Celtic and his departure to Chippa United is sure to leave a gaping hole in Siwelele’s defence.

He is not the only player to have left the Celtic, whose future ownership remains up in the air and will definitely impact negatively on their season. Also gone are the trio of defender Kabelo Dlamini, midfielder Bongani Sam and striker Tshegofatso Mabasa who all joined Orlando Pirates. Without the requisite budget to replace such key players, Celtic are in for a tough season.

Without the requisite budget to replace key players, Celtic are in for a tough season. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Without the requisite budget to replace key players, Celtic are in for a tough season. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Stellenbosch FC

The move up to the top flight is never an easy one and promoted clubs always strive to simply survive their maiden season. Stellenbosch will be no exception. For one, they will not be enjoying the pleasure of playing their home games in their own backyard where they earned their promotion, but will have to use Athlone Stadium instead.

Stellenbosch have acquired the services of veterans Morgan Gould and Marc van Heerden, as well as Mpho Matsi. They spiced their squad up with Ghanaian Dickson Afoakwa from Slovenian side NK Triglav Kranj as well as Boy de Jong who previously played for Zwolle and Anderlecht. But will the new additions help Stellenbosch avoid being in the bottom half of the table come May? Probably not.

Maritzburg United

Granted Eric Tinkler came in and saved them from what had appeared certain relegation, but how long will that reprieve last? The Team of Choice have yet again lost key players in the form of Fortune Makaringe and Siphesihle Ndlovu and while efforts have been made to try and replace them, theirs will continue to be a hard mountain to climb.

Maritzburg’s lack of financial clout will always remain their Achilles heel and while they dream of having a season as great as the one before last in which they finished fourth and reached the Nedbank Cup final, Maritzburg just do not have the depth to avoid yet another battle against the drop. It will be yet another case of touch and go for Maritzburg.

Maritzburg United players celebrating during the NFD Playoffs 2018/19 match between Royal Eagles and Maritzburg United. Photo: BackpagePix

Polokwane City

Zlakto Krmpotic boasts an impressive CV, having also coached TP Mazembe and Zesco respectively, but he takes over a team that gelled well under Josef Vukusic.

Lets face it, Jabu Maluleka made the team click last season. His impressive exploits were age-defying, but will his legs still carry him for what is about to be their most gruelling season in years considering they are also in the MTN8? Highly improbable.

Polokwane City have been quiet during the transfer window, citing a reaction of a team that’s been caught off-guard by their success from last season

@Minenhlecr7 and @Mihlalibaleka

IOL Sport

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