With the PSL fast approaching the halfway mark, there have been some exciting and surprising results. PSL betting has never been a straightforward exercise, there are always on the pitch and behind the scenes factors that every punter should look out for. Together with Sportingbet, I’ve rounded up some of the major talking points to try and help navigate your soccer betting with a bit more confidence.
What makes Mamelodi Sundowns a force to be reckoned with is the fact that they've always bought the right players along with a strong and healthy team culture.
Sometimes teams have the financial backing which allows them to purchase quality players. However, it is not guaranteed that they will make a difference or be a good fit for the team. But one thing that can be appreciated about Masandawana is that even though they have the biggest names, they have culture, team spirit and they play as one. They have that pack mentality which is what drives their competitiveness.
One more reason that I can attribute to Sundowns' recent success to is that they have some real playmakers! To impress Manqoba Mngqithi you have to earn your place on the team. If those players don’t work hard in games and during training, they simply will be included in the starting XI and rather sit on the bench!
Orlando Pirates have the numbers in terms of financial backing, outstanding players and people behind the scenes. However, the Buccaneers players seem to struggle with confidence, authority and the will to win.
The same can also be said for fellow giants Kaizer Chiefs. The interesting thing is, these titans are starting to show respect towards the smaller, younger teams in the PSL. One standout is the ever consistent Stellenbosch FC, who have been carrying their growth very well. Their advantage is that they have youngsters with a team average of only 21 years old! That to me is a sign of a healthy team.
Pirates have had a degree of inconsistency, which will affect them because if you can't win 2 or 3 games back-to-back, it leaves you nowhere. Their rivals Kaizer Chiefs, who were lying at 14th on the log at some point, played 3 games back-to-back and registered 9 points! In the lead up to the most recent Soweto derby that would have given them major confidence, as their win propelled them past Pirates on the PSL log.
In order for these two teams, that have so much history, to be considered as title contenders, they will have to do the obvious, beat Sundowns. That is no easy task, Sundowns beat both Chiefs and Pirates by a comfortable margin. The bottom line is that if you want to be a champion, you must defeat the champions
It’s important for these teams not to rest on their laurels. Players must realise that after playing popular teams in front of thousands of fans they will play bottom of the log teams with only a man and his dog watching and must still perform at the same level. Those are the games that can cost you the league, because they may still be celebrating their previous win and end up losing against the smaller teams.
It's too early to say whether Richards Bay can be title contenders, we always see a surprise team near the top early on in the season. For example, in the English Premier League, Brighton had a go at the top of the table, but fell away quickly. I think the same will play out here.
Richards Bay still has a long way to go before they can guarantee a place at the top. In order to be the best, you need to beat the best. If Richards Bay can prove themselves against the big teams this season, then I think we can start considering them as title contenders!
They needed a coach and manager like Gavin Hunt; a tough and very demanding man. Hunt knows how to get the best out of a team and he will walk into the locker room and make you feel like you're not worth the socks on your feet!
This is the same Supersport United that Kaitano Tembo coached and wasn’t doing well. Gavin Hunt took over, with the same team bar one or two changes, got the team together after 3 or 4 games and they've suddenly turned the corner. Now they are a force to be reckoned with and currently lying 3rd after being being bottom of the log at one point. So Gavin knows how to get the best out of players, he's a tough guy.
Looking at some of the teams hovering around the bottom of the log, there is still a lot to play for for these teams. Maritzburg United is a textbook example of what happens when you don't learn from your lessons over the years. This team always seems to be relegation threatened year in, year out. It means something is just not happening. The Team of Choice need to show progress and can't be struggling for survival for 7 years in a row.
Onto Swallows FC, this team has been terrible! If you watch The Dube Birds, it's fair to see them and think that this team is a sorry sight. The players are not good enough and they got rid of the coach because they thought he doesn't care. They just seem to be struggling. When you see a team celebrating a draw, like they did recently, it would be fair to think "why would you celebrate a draw like that?". Some teams are only big on paper and Swallows FC is not a big team. They are only considered big because they contested the Original Soweto Derby against Orlando Pirates.
The league will be on a break for a few months with the upcoming World Cup taking place in Qatar. I hope that in this time, teams can reinforce their strategies, injured players come back to full strength and the PSL will return with even more beautiful football!
Marks ‘Mafa’ Maponyane is a former South African international footballer. Born in Meadowlands, Soweto, he played for Kaizer Chiefs, Dynamos, Orlando Pirates and Wits University. Marks was crowned S.A Footballer Of The Year in 1983, 1987 & 1994. Maponyane is still the Kaizer Chiefs all time leading goal scorer with 85 goals in 1984. He has also been voted S.A Sports Hero Of The Year. Marks also played for Vitoria Setubal in Portugal and Bafana Bafana from 1992-1995. In his 18 years of professional football he made a combined 433 appearances in which he scored a total of 168 goals. He worked for Premier Milling, Adidas S.A and Reebok for a total of 11 years. Marks is a soccer analyst for Radio 2000 and on SAB. Maponyane has been a motivational speaker and MC since 1990.