What to look out for in the Absa Premiership this week
Posted: 6 February 2017 Time: 16:47
The Absa Premiership is back on Tuesday after a seven week hiatus and KickOff.com brings you five things to look out for in the midweek round of fixtures.
James Keene linking up with Phakamani Mahlambi
Englishman James Keene has been registered for the second half of the season at Bidvest Wits, having recovered from long-term injury, and will give coach Gavin Hunt what he says is his first-choice strike pairing.
Keene is set to link up with Phakamani Mahlambi, himself only recently back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, and on the face of it they should make a fearsome duo.
Mahlambi has pace, skill with the ball at his feet, good vision and an eye for goal, while Keene can hold up the ball, out-muscle defenders and is himself a consummate finisher.
Keene scored eight goals in 12 starts for Wits in the second half of last season, but has yet to feature at all in this campaign because of his injury.
With the return of Keene, though, comes the question of whether Hunt could look to sacrifice Gabadinho Mhango, who has been a revelation for the Clever Boys in the first half of the campaign, or will he look to field a three-man frontline.
The first defence to be tested is Ajax Cape Town, who travel to Wits on Tuesday night.
Can Kaizer Chiefs keep it going?
Back-to-back victories at the end of 2016 meant Christmas dinner tasted slightly sweeter for Kaizer Chiefs coach Steve Komphela and his players, but all that will be forgotten if they don’t hit the ground running this year.
First up is a home clash with Free State Stars, a side Komphela knows well, and who they will be expected to beat.
There has been little change in personnel at Chiefs, the arrival of Venezuelan-Italian striker Gustavo Paez at Naturena causing some buzz in an otherwise quite January transfer window.
They could be top of the league by the end of Tuesday night, albeit having played more games than their rivals, which would certainly boost confidence within the club.
Same old Orlando Pirates?
Pirates have been more adventurous in the transfer window bringing in the likes of James Okwuosa, Dove Wome and Marc van Heerden, but all eyes will be on forward Tendai Ndoro to see if he can keep up his remarkable scoring form.
Pirates are currently 10th in the table but only three points off Polokwane City five places higher and with a few wins the complexion of their season could look very different.
They travel to Platinum Stars on Wednesday, a side who are unlikely to be as much of a soft touch as they were at times during the first half of the campaign.
The new-look Baroka FC
Basement boys Baroka FC were the most active side in the January transfer window bringing in nine new players and a new coach in Jacon Sakala to replace the ever-hopeful Kgoloko Thobejane.
Thobejane was sweetened up with the award of a new house by the club and weeks later demoted to assistant.
It all smacks a little of desperation from the team but perhaps something had to change given their run of form leading up to Christmas.
Whether Sakala, who has vast experience in the National First Division but not so much in the top-flight, can effect the change they need, remains to be seen.
Three coaches to make their debut
Aside from Sakala at Baroka FC, two other coaches will also debut for their new teams this week.
Roger de Sa takes charge of Maritzburg United for the first time when they travel to Polokwane City for what is a very tricky start.
De Sa faces Polokwane while still with Ajax Cape Town earlier in the season and played to a 1-1 draw in Cape Town.
Serame Letsoaka will be in the Free State Stars dugout for the first time on Tuesday is what is perhaps the perfect start for him.
Win and he will be a hero, lose and fans will turn around and say they expected the result.