Downs eye double

23 August 2016 - 10:28 By MARK GLEESON


Mamelodi Sundowns are widely expected to retain their Premier Soccer League title but the big question is: Will the fate that befell Orlando Pirates also haunt them? In other words, are the Brazilians to have their domestic ambitions bogged down by their success in continental competition?Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane obviously saw the drag on Pirates' resources when they got to the finals of the African Champions League in 2013 and the African Confederations Cup last year.His solution has been to give his players limited time off through the off-season and look to the break in January - when the league shuts down for a month because of the African Nations Cup finals - to give them a proper rest.Mosimane is hoping that the mid-season break will refresh tired legs and see his side revitalised for the business end of the campaign.But with one eye off the ball, Sundowns face a bevy of other contenders. These are:ORLANDO PIRATESMuhsin Ertugral has never won a league title but has been given considerable resources to break that hoodoo in his new job.Pirates signalled their ambitions with a flurry of transfers as they seek to celebrate their 80th anniversary next year in style.They are also boosted by the return of Oupa Manyisa from long-term injury.KAIZER CHIEFSSteve Komphela has been allowed his own backroom staff this season but there are many doubts around the quality of signings the club have made.There will be the usual pressure to succeed for the country's best-supported club, but they can ill afford a repeat of the horror run of form they had in the closing months of the last campaign.A change of captaincy is also intriguing, with Itumeleng Khune taking over from Siphiwe Tshabalala.SUPERSPORT UNITEDStuart Baxter has something of a Midas touch and a strong-looking squad but will be searching for consistency.They have a proven goal scorer in Jeremy Brockie but question marks about their defence.They started poorly last season and have never recovered.But if they blast off in this campaign, they might take some catching.BIDVEST WITSLast season coach Gavin Hunt said Wits did not have a winning culture as yet, an ability to see themselves over the line.Finishing second was their best return yet in the PSL and they will be hoping they can go one better this time around.They have lost Sibusiso Vilakazi and Papy Faty, which is a big blow to their midfield creativity.See Page 19 for TV highlights. The new PSL season kicks off tonight

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