Can Downs defend the Absa Prem title?


Editor Tshepang Mailwane: No, they won't

Unlike some European leagues where it’s guaranteed that Juventus or Bayern Munich will win the title, the PSL has proven that it’s not set in stone from the beginning.

Sundowns have won three titles with coach Pitso Mosimane at the helm, but it has always proven to be difficult to defend a PSL crown. In fact, it has not only been difficult for Sundowns. Not since the double treble-winning Orlando Pirates side has a club defended a league title and it’s likely to be the case again this season.

Should Sundowns go far in the CAF Champions League, and maybe even go to the FIFA Club World Cup later this year, their domestic campaign will no doubt be disrupted, and catching up on games has not always worked out for clubs wanting to win the league title. They are due to take part in the 2019 Champions League, so their squad, which Mosimane does not change much, will be tested.

There’ll also be local clubs looking to redeem themselves in the league, in particular the two Soweto giants who want to get their hands on the title. Orlando Pirates have boosted their squad and are looking to go one better than last season’s second-place finish, while Kaizer Chiefs will have “league title” high up on coach Giovanni Solinas’s to-do list. The challenge might just be too much for Sundowns.

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While it can be agreed that the PSL is very far from a European league, Sundowns have, however, shown to have transcended the levels of local teams with their consistent displays over the past five seasons by claiming three domestic championships despite their commitments on the continent.

Mosimane’s outfit have hardly shown signs of fatigue or disintegration as a result of stretching themselves the length and breadth of the country and continent the way the likes of Pirates and SuperSport United have in recent years, as their lowest finish has been an admirable second-place.

Despite having lost some of their most influential role-players in Percy Tau and Khama Billiat ahead of this coming season, The Brazilians still have a formidable squad to compete on all fronts and boast arguably the most depth in the country at this stage – with one or two more rumoured to still be coming in at Chloorkop.

For a team that can easily replace a midfield duo such as Hlompho Kekana and Tiyani Mabunda with the likes of Oupa Manyisa and Andile Jali, or Sibusiso Vilakazi with Jeremy Brockie, or Themba Zwane with Gaston Sirino, there’s no doubting their capabilities to finally emulate the club’s back-to-back titles in 2005/06 and 2006/07.

The Buccaneers might well put up a stiff challenge for the title, but they too will be embroiled in the CAF Champions League come the end of November, and with the demand for silverware much higher given their four-year trophy drought, it could be a tough ask for their squad to go the distance in the domestic marathon, especially since they have limited experience in their playing personnel when it comes to managing themselves.