Amakhosi begin season with Sundowns opener

Kaizer Chiefs will begin their 50th full league campaign with an opening game against defending league champions Mamelodi Sundowns at FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon in the DStv Premiership.

Amakhosi who lost out on the title to the Brazilians on the final day of last season, will be looking to put that heartbreak behind them and begin their 25th league campaign in the PSL era since 1996-97 with a win. The team will be looking at securing a second victory of the 2020/21 campaign, having already won their MTN8 quarterfinal game against Maritzburg United this past Sunday.

This will be the 49th PSL era league meeting between Chiefs and Sundowns with Amakhosi having won 20 of these games, with 14 draws and a further 14 wins for the Brazilians. Chiefs will be looking to make their historical advantage count on Saturday.

A player accustomed to the rivalry between the sides Chiefs defender Njabulo Blom, as he has played against Sundowns last season. “I expect a high intensity game because you have two big teams coming up against each other and neither will want to lose. We want the win because winning a game like this will be a morale booster.”

Blom featured when Chiefs defeated Sundowns away from home during the sides’ first clash last season when Amakhosi won 2-0 away from home on 27 October 2019. He offered the following advice to his teammates ahead of the clash with Sundowns: “We need to focus on our strengths – stay in our lane so to speak. We need to work together and put 120% effort on the field to win the game. Also, we must implement the coach’s strategy, and this will also help. With a game like this, you need to not think too much about the game, focus on your strengths and you will be okay”.

The young defender who came on as second half substitute during Chiefs 2-1 come-from-behind win on Sunday against Maritzburg United in the MTN8, believes that result is the tonic Chiefs needed going into their first league game against Sundowns. “There is no doubt that winning against Maritzburg boosted us even at training. On a personal level, I am very happy to have played and have had an input in us winning the game.”

Chiefs go into the game with coach Gavin Hunt featuring in his 23rd season in the PSL and his 25th season overall as a head coach. He coached Seven Stars in two campaigns in the second tier in 1996-97 and 1997-98 before taking them to the PSL for the 1998-99 season. Since then, he has coached in 22 successive seasons in the topflight – the most by any coach in the PSL era.

Overall Chiefs have won 15 of their 24 opening league games in the PSL era. No team has won more games in their first league game since the start of the PSL in 1996-97. Also, this will be the third time in the PSL era Chiefs and Sundowns meet in the opening game of the season. They met first up in the 2003-04 season, a game Chiefs won 2-0 with the late John ‘Shoes’ Moshoeu and Patrick Mayo scoring for Chiefs, while their other opening day meeting in 2018-19 ended 1-1.

Kick off for the game is at 15h30 with the buildup live from 14h30 on the PSL Channel 202 on DStv. The game will also be live on SABC 1, with live commentary on SABC Radio Stations