JOHANNESBURG – With new-look teams and new-look kits, with ambitions of winning title championships for some and avoiding relegation for others, South Africa's 16 Premier Soccer League (PSL) football clubs return from the off-season break when the 2019/ 20 Absa Premiership campaign kicks off on Saturday afternoon.
Probably the pick of the opening weekend's action involves defending league champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who host SuperSport United in a Tshwane derby at the Lucas Moripe Stadium at 3pm on Saturday.
Unlike many of the other teams – who did substantial business in the transfer window, to date Sundowns have made just one major new signing - Uruguay marksman Mauricio Affonso.
SuperSport meanwhile have brought in two former Orlando Pirates players following the acquisition of attacking duo Kudakwashe Mahachi and Thamsanqa Gabuza.
Also on Saturday afternoon, Baroka FC host Cape Town City and last season's National First Division champions, Stellenbosch FC, begin life in the top flight with an away game against Chippa United in Port Elizabeth.
Mamelodi Sundowns have tweaked their pre-season preparations and have now made the trip to Zambia instead of the Democratic Republic of Congo where they would have faced TP Mazembe and CS Don Bosco, in Lubumbashi, as initially planned.— Mamelodi Sundowns FC (@Masandawana) July 25, 2019
Full story: https://t.co/V65Hc2rSrv pic.twitter.com/W1q0rOXfFp
In the evening (6pm) action, a revamped Pirates side – including nine new players and several others recalled from loan spells, host Bloemfontein Celtic in Soweto.
The Buccaneers finished second last term and appear to mean business after snapping up some serious new firepower including Gabadinho Mhango, Tshegofatso Mabasa, Fortune Makaringe, Siphesihle Ndlovu and Austin Muwowo.
And they go into their opening match boosted by last weekend's 2-0 victory over Chiefs in the Carling Black Label Cup.
In the late kick-off on Saturday (8-15pm), Bidvest Wits, who came third last season, take on AmaZulu in Umlazi.
The country's most popular club Kaizer Chiefs have signed two new centre-forwards in Zambian Lazarous Kambole and Serbian Samir Nurkovic, as well as midfielders Kearyn Baccus, from Australia and James Kotei, a Ghanaian.
With last season's poor end to the campaign - which culminated in Amakhosi ending ninth, still fresh in the mind of supporters, Amakhosi players and management will find themselves under scrutiny right from the start.
And they can be certain they won't be given any favours at what will be a rocking Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa on Sunday afternoon for an expected cracker against Owen Da Gama's Highlands Park.
Sunday's other two matches are a Limpopo derby between Black Leopards and Polokwane City at the Thohoyandou Stadium, as well as a KwaZulu-Natal derby, between Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium.
The weekend's fixtures
Mamelodi Sundowns vs SuperSport United - Lucas Moripe Stadium (3pm)
Baroka FC vs Cape Town City - Old Peter Mokaba Stadium (3pm)
Chippa United vs Stellenbosch - Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (3pm)
Orlando Pirates vs Bloemfontein Celtic - Orlando Stadium (6pm)
AmaZulu FC vs Bidvest Wits - King Zwelithini Stadium (8-15pm)
Highlands Park vs Kaizer Chiefs - Makhulong Stadium (3pm)
Black Leopards vs Polokwane City - Thohoyandou Stadium (3pm)
Golden Arrows vs Maritzburg United - Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium (3pm)
African News Agency (ANA)