Mamelodi Sundowns players celebrate the wining the PSL. Photo: Steve Haag

Pretoria - Mamelodi Sundowns will begin their Absa Premiership title defence at home against Maritzburg United, according to the Premier Soccer League draw that took place in Joburg on Thursday.

The opening round of the 2014/15 season would be played from August 8-10, but specific dates of matches were still to be determined.

Sundowns had a proud record in the Premiership, winning titles in succession from 1998 to 2000.

They then won twice in a row in 2006 and 2007, and waited seven years for their next Premiership trophy.

Sundowns may have history on their side, having won the most league titles, but they need to keep in mind that their nearest rivals, Kaizer Chiefs, had a disappointing finish to their season and were a mere two points behind.

Chiefs would commence their campaign with an away game against Free State Stars.

PSL chief executive Brand de Villiers is confident there will be much less confusion in the fixtures.

The PSL was in a tailspin last season due to Orlando Pirates participating in the CAF Champions League.

Also, the month-long break in January due to Chan and participation in continental club competitions by Chiefs and SuperSport United forced a whole lot of chopping and changing of fixtures which frustrated supporters.

But the PSL believe they are better prepared this time.

“Last season a lot of the fixtures were changed because a lot of the dates came out after the fixtures had been drawn. This year we are fortunate in receiving a lot of the dates early. We received CAF dates and the programme from Safa, so that enabled us to do the draw for the fixtures earlier and we can prepare earlier,” De Villiers said.

With the Cosafa Cup, CAF Champions League, Confederation Cup, Africa Cup of Nations and the Olympic qualifiers lined up, the PSL say they don’t have a choice but to play most of the matches during the week.

Clubs will play 17 matches before the Christmas break and the rest will be played from February to May after the Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.

The season will end earlier than usual so that the under-23 team can have a strong squad for the Olympic qualifiers, unlike the last time when some clubs refused to release players because the qualifiers did not fall under a Fifa date.

PSL general manager Derek Blanckensee, said: “We will have to use a lot of midweek dates.

“Clubs will always complain why they play so much during the week and not on the weekend, but it’s simply not possible to do it any different.

Pretoria News and Sapa