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7 players to watch this DStv Premiership season

The transfer season had plenty of traffic, with teams shedding players. Here are those we'll be keeping a close eye on as they move to new teams
Thu, Aug 04, 2022

PHOTOS: Twitter

The 16 DStv Premiership clubs begin a long journey that will come with joy, tension, coaches getting hired and fired in the name of chasing the lucrative R15-million prize money over the next nine months.

But not all have the heavy artillery to compete – Mamelodi Sundowns obviously standing head and shoulders above the rest with their embarrassment of riches, while the two Soweto giants, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, play catch up.

What is guaranteed though is that there are players who will stand out following a busy transfer market that meant every club has tried to beef up their squads.

The 7 players to watch this 2022/23 season, all of them now with new teams:  

1. Ashley du Preez

The 25-year-old has made one of the most talked about transfers ahead of the new campaign by leaving Stellenbosch FC for what is supposedly greener pastures… Kaizer Chiefs, a club eager to end their trophy drought.

Du Preez, a utility attacker who can be deployed as a lone striker or out wide depending on the formation, arrives at Naturena when the Glamour Boys have not won any major silverware since 2015.

Considering his stellar performance at his old club last season, where he finished as their top scorer with only nine goals, all eyes are on du Preez because Chiefs have not yet signed another striker to help him carry the load. He will no doubt be thrown in the deep end.

2. Gabadinho Mhango

It’s a fresh start for ‘Gaba’ after leaving Pirates, where the last few months of his time with the club were littered with allegations of ill-discipline and lack of focus on the job at hand.

Even when he had a blinder at the Africa Cup of Nations in January playing for his native country Malawi, back home Mhango couldn’t buy a game.

Now that he has signed for AmaZulu we all expect to see the old ‘Gaba’ back – firing and producing that Afcon form that earned him the move to Pirates in the first place.

But he can’t go clubbing and think he can mix business with pleasure eThekwini, this is a rare second chance at a club of this stature.

3. Sibusiso Vilakazi

Easily a marquee signing for TS Galaxy but has to show that he can stay injury free and get game time under coach Sead Ramovic.

The 2014 Footballer of the Year while at the now defunct Bidvest Wits spent the last two seasons, at least, dropping down the pecking order at Sundowns and eventually losing his place to some of the new faces.

Downs said he was often injured, but he has suggested he is now fully fit and ready to revive his career with The Rockets. In his day, Vilakazi is unplayable… and that’s the player Galaxy hope they’ve signed.

4. Victor Letsoalo

He could have been a Chiefs player, or maybe even a Buccaneer. But Sekhukhune United beat both Soweto clubs to the striker’s signature on the back of a memorable season at Royal AM, where he scored 15 goals to finish behind Peter Shalulile in the race for the Golden Boot.

Had it not been for Shalulile being so clinical, bagging eight more goals, history indicates Letsoalo would have clinched that accolade. His biggest test now is to do it again at a different club under a new coach – it’s only through being consistent that Letsoalo can be remembered as a genuine goal poacher.

5. Sipho Mbule

We are all curious about Mbule’s match fitness and state of mind following his transfer saga from SuperSport United to crosstown rivals Sundowns, which was only concluded at the end of the season.

Mbule wanted to leave in January already and, having been accused by the club of misconduct and disrespecting his then teammates, the talented midfielder managed to play just six minutes in six months.

It’s fair to say he might not be a regular for Downs in the earlier rounds of the DStv Premiership due to acclimatising to the new environment and working towards peak physical condition… but will he be the right fit with all that’s been reported about his off-the-field lifestyle choices?

 

6. Miguel Timm

He’s made the move to one of the big three clubs in the country a bit late in his career, but Timm has a lot to offer.

The midfielder was a key part of the Marumo Gallants side that embodied coach Dan Malesela’s style last season to avoid relegation and reach the final of the Nedbank Cup, losing to Sundowns in a highly entertaining game in which Timm was one of the stand-out players.

Arguably the best distributor of the ball, Pirates have scored big here by landing the 30-year-old on a free transfer.

7. Thulani Hlatshwayo

Having been the Bafana Bafana captain until coach Hugo Broos took charge in May last year, the man nicknamed ‘Tyson’ has a lot to prove. He’s said so himself.

As far as Hlatshwayo is concerned, he was dropped without any explanation at Pirates, which prompted his decision to ask for a mutual termination of his contract. The defender has reunited with Gavin Hunt at SuperSport and any schoolboy errors will invite criticism because part of his omission at Pirates was due to costly mistakes many felt a player with his experience shouldn’t be making.

He will lead a young team at SSU and it’s important he puts behind his Pirates nightmare is well and truly in the past.

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