JOHANNESBURG - Soccer writer Njabulo Ngidi has looked at Mamelodi Sundowns and how they could fare in the Premiership this season.
Key player: Thulani Hlatshwayo
Tyson has grown into an important figure for Wits: a good leader, he is solid at the back and pops up with the occasional goal - especially in tight situations. He was Defender-of- the-Season in the last campaign and clearly still has a lot to offer. His positive attitude and high work rate makes him an asset.
Coach: Gavin Hunt
The five-time Coach-of- the-Season does not only know how to win the league but also how to retain it. He led SuperSport United to a trio of successive league titles. Having won Wits their maiden championship in 96 years (at his fourth time of trying), he will be looking to use that expertise to ensure the Clever Boys rule again.
Pound-for- pound theirs is arguably the strongest squad as was evidenced by their ability to replace any player with an equally competent one last season. For example Gabadinho Mhango and Eleazer Rodgers led the attack early in the season while Phakamani Mahlambi and James Keene finished things off later. They are big on team effort too as almost every player came with a crucial contribution. Also hard to beat at home - just two defeats in 15 league matches.
They tended to drop points easily last season and that failure to be consistently ruthless as per their abilities ensured they were pushed all the way by an overworked Sundowns. They will need to put away opponents instead of letting the door open like they did in the previous campaign.
Retaining the championship of course. But perhaps even better would be reaching the Caf Champions League group stage to dispel the generally held notion that they don’t take continental football seriously.
After winning two trophies, MTN8 and the Absa Premiership, last season, a silverware-less season will be deemed a failure. They also have to at least make the top three in the league.
Goalkeepers: Moeneeb Josephs, Darren Keet, Sanele Tshabalala and Kyle Peters. Defenders: Bokang Tlhone, Nazeer Allie, Sifiso Hlanti, Anthony Gordinho, Slavko Damjanovic, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Reeve Frosler, Thulani Hlatshwayo, Markus Lecki and Bongani Khumalo. Midfielders: Sifiso Myeni, Vincent Pule, Elias Pelembe, Phumlani Ntshangase, Xola Mlambo, Steven Pienaar, Daylon Claasen, Thabang Monare, Daine Klate, Wangu Gome, Ben Motshwari, Jabu Shongwe, Granwald Scott, Kobamelo Kodisang and Liam Jordan. Strikers: James Keene, Phakamani Mahlambi, Gabadinho Mhango, Gerald Phiri and Eleazer Rodgers
Best: Champions in 2016
Worst: Relegated in 2005