by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – A clash between longtime South African rivals, Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns, will this weekend headline the resumption of the revamped Absa Premiership, the most lucrative domestic football league in the African continent.
The titans, who have shared five of the last six league titles, square up at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Tshwane (Pretoria) at 15h00 on Saturday.
The encounter comes barely two weeks after the Gauteng rivals clashed in the Shell Helix Cup at FNB Stadium in Soweto. Defending league champions Sundowns emerged victorious with a 2-1 scoreline.
While they cannot admit it, the duel will be the perfect stage for Chiefs to exert revenge. Yet, Sundowns have unfinished business with their rivals after they snatched influential Zimbabwe attacker, Khama Billiat, from their ranks during the off-season.
The Brazilians, as the Pretoria side are known, have also lost the services of Percy Tau, who has signed for English premiership side, Brighton and Hove Albion after protracted negotiations.
In the absence of the attacking pair, Sundowns are expected to field new signings Toni Silva, Andile Jali and Rivaldo Coetzee, the latter who despite signing last season has not donned The Brazilians colours owing to injury.
Chiefs meanwhile are a new-look side, albeit technically, with Italian mentor Giovanni Solinas brought in to replace the ill-fated Steve Komphela at the helm of the most successful club in South African football.
Meanwhile, also on Saturday, newly promoted Black Leopards will host Polokwane City in a Limpopo derby at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. The match kicks-off at 18h00.
Bidvest Wits, who in 2016/17 managed to end the title domination by Chiefs and Sundowns, face hoodoo side, Free State Stars, at the same time at the Bidvest Stadium.
Perennial contenders, Orlando Pirates, who finished last season as runners-up to Sundowns will host returnees, Highlands Park, at Orlando Stadium in Soweto in a 20h15 kickoff.
On Sunday, last season’s surprise package, Maritzburg United, will battle Golden Arrows at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg in a KwaZulu-Natal derby at 15h00.
Crowd pullers Bloemfontein Celtic will at the same time host Chippa United at Dr Molemela Stadium.
Full weekend fixture:
SATURDAY, 4th August 2018
– Mamelodi Sundowns Vs Kaizer Chiefs, 15h00 (Loftus Versfeld Stadium)
– Black Leopards Vs Polokwane City, 18h00 (Peter Mokaba Stadium)
– Bidvest Wits Vs Free State Stars, 18h00 (Bidvest Stadium)
– Orlando Pirates Vs Highlands Park, 20h15, (Orlando Stadium)
– AmaZulu FC Vs Baroka FC, 20h15, King Zwelithini Stadium
SUNDAY, 5th August 2018
– Maritzburg United Vs Golden Arrows, 15h00 (Harry Gwala Stadium)
– Golden Arrows Vs Bloem Celtic, 15h00 (Dr Molemela Stadium)
– CAJ News