The very first weekend of the newly branded 2016/2017 BTC Premiership will feature a high voltage encounter between bitter rivals Extension Gunners and Mochudi Center Chiefs at the National Stadium, being the pick of the bunch of the enticing opening games.
Zimbabwean gaffer, Bongani Mafu’s first test in Chiefs colors is set to be an intriguing one with his relatively new look Chiefs squad after a massive overhaul in the summer. Another transfer window came to an end, with some similar problems for Magosi’s inactive approaches in the market, despite losing marquee players in Lemponye Tshireletso and Tendai Nyumasi.
Nonetheless, it has been an exciting start to Mafu’s squad building, but summer spending spree do not always pen out as hoped, as Chiefs lost out to Jwaneng Galaxy on the signing of Thabang Sesinyi. However, the club brought in experienced campaigners in Phenyo Mongala, Jerome Ramatlhakwana, Noah Maposa, Allen Ndolele, Charles Mutero, Stanley Ngala and Dirang Moloi.
What is undeniable is the fact that Mafu has a ‘winners’ tag squad at his disposal with the return of familiar faces who previously tasted silverware with Chiefs in Maposa, Mongala and Moloi. While the notion of having Premier League proven players is not much of a use when it comes to judging a potential new signing,Magosi seem to have added players who know how to handle expectations.
Contradictory, Gunners’ new season must be well rehearsed by now, go on a good run of games in the early stages of the season, internal management issues arise and sack the coach. However, with Chicco Nare at the helm, the coach boosts an aura of a confident personality in the dugout, capable of helping the club reach new heights. Apart from the blockbuster opening game against Chiefs, Nare’s troops will play Green Lovers, Security Systems, BDF Xl and Miscellaneous in their first five games.
Flashbacks of last season’s 1-0 loss to Chiefs still haunt Gunners supporters in what happened to be Pio Paul’s last game in charge of the Peleng giants. Chiefs brushed aside with relative ease in last season’s fixtures, taking 6 points in both ties, but the script is likely to be different this time around. It remains to be seen how the former Highlanders coach ‘Mafu’ will cope with the notoriously difficult nature of the Premiership at a club often challenging for league title honors.
The match is likely to be a big barometer for both sides, but it will certainly present an opportunity for each to land a significant blow on one of their main title rivals.