The winners and the losers: The 16 Premiership teams’ chances in 2021-22

20 August 2021 - 10:23
By Mahlatse Mphahlele and Marc Strydom
Mamelodi Sundowns co-head coach Rulani Mokwena during the 2021/22 DStv Premiership season launch at FNB Stadium on August 18  2021.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images Mamelodi Sundowns co-head coach Rulani Mokwena during the 2021/22 DStv Premiership season launch at FNB Stadium on August 18 2021.

The 2021-22 DStv Premiership kicks off on Friday evening with a tasty match-up between four-time successive champions Mamelodi Sundowns and last season’s runners-up AmaZulu at Loftus Versfeld (kickoff 5pm).

As the new normal of closed stadiums continues during SA’s Covid-19 vaccination drive, TimesLIVE examines who will be the winners, losers, headline-grabbers, villains, heroes, overachievers and underachievers of the new campaign:

AmaZulu (last season second)

Usuthu surprised all and sundry last season to finish second on the log. Coach Benni McCarthy and his men will be out to impress once again despite the fact that they will be have a tough programme from playing in the Caf Champions League.

Prognosis: They will again be fighting for a top four finish.

Baroka FC (last season 10th)

They have gone through their preparations quietly. coach Matsimela Thoka will be hoping star striker Evidence Makgopa, who played for SA Under-23 at the Olympics, is firing on all cylinders in front of goals.

Prognosis: Their mission will be to avoid relegation.

Cape Town City (last season  seventh)

Eric Tinkler has returned to what was his second professional club as a coach, where he knows many of the players, has a good relationship with chairman John Comitis, and has had success in the environment steering then brand-new City to third place in their first season in 2016-17. The players seem sure to warm to him.

Prognosis: Pushing for a top five place.

Chippa United (last season 15th)

How Gavin Hunt’s temperament gels with that of similarly short-fused owner Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi is going to be the huge question mark – and might provide some of the media headlines of the season – around this extremely odd pairing. Chippa bring good players season after season, and still underachieve. Even with four-time league winner Hunt there, it’s hard to see the situation changing.

Prognosis: They can fight relegation, push for the top eight, or challenge for the title. Who knows.

Kaizer Chiefs (last season eighth)

There is much hope, with the return of Stuart Baxter, and strong and exciting signings, for a much-improved Chiefs from their six nightmare seasons without silverware. Nothing is guaranteed though . Who could have predicted Gavin Hunt would fail so miserably last campaign? Much depends on if Samir Nurkovic stays, and if he hits true form. Keagan Dolly is a huge signing.

Prognosis: Challenging Sundowns for the title.

Lamontville Golden Arrows (last season fourth)

The question, after their best league finish of fourth, is if the Durban team can replicate that kind of form after Mandla Ncikazi’s departure to Orlando Pirates. Lehlohonolo Seema has had mixed success as a coach since leaving Bloem Celtic. Divine Lunga is a big loss.

Prognosis: Should push for a top six spot, but may also battle for the top eight.

Mamelodi Sundowns (last season champions)

The Brazilians have shown a strong case of intent in the transfer market by bolstering their squad with Pavol Safranko, Divine Lunga, Neo Maema, Grant Kekana and Thabiso Kutumela. It remains to be seen if they will go all the way to achieve the unprecedented feat of winning five successive league titles.

Prognosis: They are always good enough to win the league.

Maritzburg United (last season 13th)

The club are battling financially and threatening to sell up or leave the KwaZulu-Natal capital Pietermaritzburg, and lost key players in Kwanda Mngonyama and Bandile Shandu. However, this club has become skilled at finding enough quality in the transfer market to ensure they at least preserve their status, and Ernst Middendorp is generally able to makee his teams competitive.

Prognosis: Should avoid the drop again, perhaps challenging for the top eight.

Marumo Gallants (last season 12th, as TTM)

Since they have changed their name from Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM), there has been a major overhaul at the club with many new players and unknown quantity French coach Sébastien Migné. It remains to be seen how all these new ingredients will come together this season.

Prognosis: They will fight relegation.

Orlando Pirates (last season third)

They have already lost a coach, Josef Zinnbauer, a single cup match into 2021-22, leaving inexperienced but promising Fadlu Davids and Mandla Ncikazi at the helm. Pirates were subdued in the market, but made  many good signings who underachieved last season, and still have boundless potential.

Prognosis: Pushing for a top three spot.

Royal AM (last season 11th, as Bloem Celtic, and second in the NFD as Royal)

What more can be said that hasn’t already been said? With their flamboyant reality TV show owner Shauwn Mkhize at the helm, yet to appoint a full-time coach, and a huge bank balance behind them, this club that shook the establishment in the court room, then bought Bloemfontein Celtic, are sure to provide headlines, thrills and spills.

Prognosis: Struggling to make the top eight, but it will be some ride to watch anyway.

Sekhukhune United (last season champions of the NFD)

Sekhukhune, who will be playing their first season in the DStv Premiership after winning the highly disputed GladAfrica Championship, will be looking to impress under coaches MacDonald Makhubedu and Thabo Senong. They have made many decent signings and went about their pre-season methodically and professionally.

Prognosis: Their mission will be to stay in the league.

Stellenbosch FC (last season  14th)

Steve Barker’s tough-to-beat outfit, with their High Performance Centre and facilities at Stellenbosch University, would have done much better than 14th last season had they not missed so many chances and failed to win games they led and dominated. They have done a reasonable job in the transfer market.

Prognosis: They should fare batter, and can push for the top eight.

SuperSport United (last season  fifth)

After a quiet pre-season in the transfer market, SuperSport United coach Kaitano Tembo on Wednesday bolstered his defence with the acquisition of former Bafana Bafana defender Buhle Mkhwanazi, but they will once again largely rely on their youthful stars.  

Prognosis: A top eight finish is almost always guaranteed. The question is how high.

Swallows FC (last season sixth)

The Dube Birds have been among the busiest teams on the transfer market and coach Brandon Truter will aim to improve on their creditable sixth-place finish as the rookies last season. Their ambitions in 2020-21 were sabotaged by the fact that they drew a whopping 20 matches.

Prognosis: They will once again be looking to finish in the top eight.

TS Galaxy (last season ninth)

The Rockets missed out on a top eight place to Kaizer Chiefs by goal difference and coach Owen Da Gama will be pushing this largely inexperienced team to do better than they did last season. 

Prognosis: Pushing for a top eight place.