Who will win the 2021-22 PSL title? Favourites, outsiders & underdogs

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Mamelodi Sundowns, June 2021
Masandawana won a record-extending 11th PSL trophy last term, but they could face stern competition in the new campaign

The 2021/22 PSL season is set to start this weekend and it promises to be a thrilling campaign with the top clubs set to battle to be crowned South African champions.

Mamelodi Sundowns will be determined to retain the PSL title, but the likes of Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs, and SuperSport United will fancy their chances  

Goal has what you need to know about the favourites, underdogs, and outsiders to win the new PSL season: 

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Who are the favourites to win the PSL?

Aubrey Modiba & Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate

Mamelodi Sundowns remain a dominant force in South African football having won four consecutive PSL titles including the 2020/21 trophy.

They finished the recent term 13 points clear of runners-up AmaZulu FC, who were the only real threat for Masandawana towards the end of the season.

The Tshwane giants have backed their co-head coaches, Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena, in the current transfer window with the club having signed quality players such as Thabiso Kutumela, Pavol Safranko and Grant Kekana.

Sundowns have also been able to tie down one of their most influential players, Themba Zwane, to a new contract and Masandawana boast a formidable squad that has what it takes to make it five successive PSL titles. 

Who are the underdogs to win the PSL?

Orlando Pirates 2021/22 home kit

Orlando Pirates finished third in the PSL for the second year running during the 2020/21 campaign and coach Josef Zinnbauer has since been dismissed by the club and whoever replaces him will be under pressure to win the league championship in his second full season. Zinnbauer ended the Buccaneers' six-year drought by leading the team to the 2020 MTN8 title. 

Kwanda Mngonyama and Goodman Mosele headline Pirates' new signings thus far, but the Soweto giants, who won their last PSL championship in 2012, are expected to sign more players to reinforce a squad that already includes league title-winning players such Thulani Hlatshwayo, Happy Jele, Thabang Monare, Ben Motshwari, Vincent Pule, and Frank Mhango.

Pirates' arch-rivals, Kaizer Chiefs, endured a disappointing campaign in the PSL which saw the Soweto giants finish eighth and this was after the club parted ways with accomplished coach Gavin Hunt, who has since been replaced by another successful tactician, Stuart Baxter, who is in his second spell with the Naturena-based side.

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter

Baxter remains the last coach to win a major trophy with Chiefs which happens to be the PSL title in 2015, and Amakhosi have been among the busiest clubs in the current transfer window - signing exciting players such as Njabulo Ngcobo, Sibusiso Mabiliso, Phathutshedzo Nange, Kgaogelo Sekgota, and Keagan Dolly.

Their Gauteng rivals, SuperSport United, cannot be ruled out from challenging for the league championship with the club having kept its faith in their Zimbabwean coach Kaitano Tembo, who has guided the team to a fifth-place finish in the league in the recent season. 

The Tshwane giants boast top-quality players like Ronwen Williams, Sipho Mbule, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Teboho Mokoena, and Bradley Grobler, while Bongani Khumalo, who was part of the SuperSport team which won three successive PSL titles between 2008 and 2010, remains part of the squad and his experience will come in handy for the Tshwane giants.

Who are the outsiders to win the PSL?

Moeneeb Josephs & Benni McCarthy, AmaZulu FC, June 2021

AmaZulu FC enjoyed a fairytale season under reigning PSL Coach of the Season, Benni McCarthy, last season as he steered the KwaZulu-Natal giants to their highest finish with the team securing the runners-up spot.

It will be imperative for AmaZulu to retain the services of their key players Tapelo Xoki, Makhehlene Makhaula, Luvuyo Memela, Augustine Mulenga, and Lehlohonolo Majoro if they are to challenge for the PSL title once again, while the arrival of highly-rated midfielder Keagan Buchanan will improve Usuthu's squad. 

Meanwhile, Swallows FC took the PSL by storm on their return to the elite league as they went on a 17-match unbeaten run and they looked like genuine league title contenders until they began drawing matches and they went on to set a PSL record for the most draws (20) in a single campaign. They finished sixth in the league last season.

The Beautiful Birds can challenge for the league championship in the new season if they turn those draws into wins and players such as Ruzaigh Gamilden, Monnapule Saleng, and Lebohang Mokoena will be key to the Soweto giants' title ambitions.