After months of talk, anticipation and speculation, the new Premier Soccer League campaign is finally upon us, and one can only image what kind of a season we're in for this time.
You can read Part II of my Big PSL Preview , but here's a look at the second set of opening fixtures for the 2012/13 Premiership campaign.
SUNDAY 12 August
University of Pretoria v Maritzburg United
University of Pretoria get life in the Premier Soccer League up and running against Maritzburg United on Sunday, in a match which might just give a clear indication of both side's chances in the season.
AmaTuks earned their place in South Africa's top-flight following the demolition of the National First Division, which they finished as champions, four points ahead of Chippa United who eventually earned promotion through the play-offs.
Steve Barker's side, though, face a tough challenge in their opening clash as they take on United. The Team of Choice may only have finished last season in 11th, although they produced some stand-out performances, most notably beating Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns.
My prediction: Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp has made some decent moves to strengthen his squad during the off-season and will be desperate to produce a better showing in the new term, while Tuks enter the campaign with all the enthusiasm of a newly enrolled college student eager to grow and learn from their surroundings. University of Pretoria 1-1 Maritzburg United.
Platinum Stars v Moroka Swallows
Platinum Stars enter the new season with virtually an entirely new squad, with coach Cavin Johnson having dug deep into the transfer market, signing no fewer than 12 new players during the transfer period.
Dikwena have, however, also sent 12 players packing, leaving the Rustenburg-based outfit with a fresh approach following their lowly 10th place finish last season.
Swallows, meanwhile, went through a Cinderella transformation last season under coach Gordon Igesund, going from relegation candidates to PSL runners-up. However, the tactician has since been installed as the Bafana Bafana coach, although the Dube Birds shouldn't be too concerned as veteran coach Zeca Marques has stepped up to take over the reins.
My prediction: The Dube Birds' ability to retain the services of last season's PSL top goal scorer Siyabonga Nomvethe stands the club in good stead to again challenge at the top of the table, while it remains to be seen whether the new-look Stars team can break out of the doldrums of obscurity and stamp some authority on the top-flight. Platinum Stars 1-2 Moroka Swallows.
By Ryan Gordon
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