by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – DEFENDING champions Bidvest Wits have admitted to pressure in their quest to retain their maiden title when the eagerly-awaited kicks off with a home tie against Cape Town City.
Multiple award-winning coach, Gavin Hunt’s side will begin the defence of their accolade next Friday at Bidvest Stadium in Braamfontein,Johannesburg against last season’s surprise package.
The Cape Town-born coach is wary of the threat posed by the rivals eager to snatch the title Wits won for the first time 86 years after formation.“Obviously we will be under pressure, but it’s good pressure that we want.
We have worked hard to get to this level, now we need to maintain it” Hunt said.
He added, “Preparations have been fine, a few players have gone, a few have come in.”
Hunt has beefed his squad with such signings as former national team captain Steven Pienaar and midfielder Daylon Claason.Both had lengthy stints in Europe.
“The most important thing has been to align what our values are as a club and as a team, and to put in place the right things so that the club can be sustainable in the years to come,” Hunt said.
A Pretoria derby between deposed champions Mamelodi Sundowns and ambitious Supersport United at Lucas Moripe Stadium next Saturday will be the highlight of the opening weekend.
Both sides ended the season on a high, particularly United who won the season-ending Nedbank Cup final with a 4-1 drubbing of Orlando Pirates.
Excitement reigns at Supersport with the signing of Eric Tinkler, who joined after a successful campaign with Cape Town City.
Elsewhere, Limpopo based Polokwane City, who finished the league on historic top eight, will lock horns with Limpopo rivals Baroka FC in another derby to be contested at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Baroka survived relegation by a whisker via the playoffs.
Pirates have to redeem lost pride and start the resuscitation on the same Saturday with a fixture against Chippa United.
Ajax Cape Town will continue their rivalry with Golden Arrows in Cape Town.
On Sunday, Bloemfontein Celtic are anticipating a full house when they host perennial favourites Kaizer Chiefs at the Free State Stadium.Platinum Stars round off proceedings with a home fixture against Maritzburg United at the Royal Bafokeng.Kickoff for Sunday matches is 15h00.
Full fixture below:
Friday 18 August 2017
Bidvest Wits v Cape Town City FC (Bidvest Stadium) 20:00
Saturday 19 August 2017
SuperSport United v Mamelodi Sundowns (Lucas Moripe Stadium) 15:00
Polokwane City v Baroka FC (Old Peter Mokaba Stadium) 15:00
AmaZulu FC v Free State Stars (King Zwelithini Stadium) 15:00
Orlando Pirates v Chippa United (Orlando Stadium) 18:00
Ajax Cape Town v Golden Arrows (Cape Town Stadium) 20:15
Sunday 20 August 2017
Bloemfontein Celtic v Kaizer Chiefs (Free State Stadium) 15:00
Platinum Stars v Maritzburg United (Royal Bafokeng Stadium) 15:00.
– CAJ News