10 September 2019, by: Grant de Smidt

PSL TRANSFER WINNERS AND LOSERS – EVERY CLUB’S DEALS GRADED

The PSL season is in full swing and after four matchdays, Kaizer Chiefs find themselves sitting pretty at the top.

The transfer window is also officially closed now and Grant de Smidt went through every PSL club’s dealings and graded them. Also look out right at the bottom for his best and worst signings of the PSL transfer window.

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Amazulu

Usuthu really needed a replacement for Emiliano Tade, who left in January. They brought in Andre De Jong to add some ball-carrying ability in wider areas or as a second striker, but he does not appear to upgrade their first XI, nor replace the goals of Tade. Lehlohonolo Majoro arrived too, but is probably too similar to partner Bongi Ntuli, so is more of a depth signing.

In defence, they needed some extra quality centrally but instead offloaded Marc Van Heerden and Sadat Ouro-Akoriko without replacing them.

Rating: D

No real improvements were made, so it’s no wonder they’ve continued their poor form from the second half of last season where they took only 15 points from their final 15 matches.

Baroka FC

As is the case every off-season, Baroka have made mass changes to their squad, with Abdi Banda the one meaningful departure. Richard Mbulu and Gerald Phiri have immediately become first-choice players after arriving, as has defender, Phelelani Shozi from Tuks.

Kulegani Madondo is a steady addition in midfield and makes them harder to beat, whilst Denwin Farmer still has potential if he can get himself fit. Those two need to help the side be more consistent at the back after conceding nine more goals in the second half of last season than in the first.

Ratings: C

The side didn’t really get stronger, but they did manage to hold onto Mduduzi Mdantsane, which is a big deal. They have a lot of rookies at PSL level who have started the season well and some real surprise packages could emerge. Phiri is their best signing and adds quality from set-plays.

Bidvest Wits

Considering the budget cuts at the club, Gavin Hunt had to make do with a cheaper plethora of free agents than usual. Darren Keet and Robyn Johannes were both big losses as starting XI players. The latter helped Wits to concede just 9 goals in the first half of last season. They conceded 20 in the final 15 games with Johannes often missing through injury.

Brandon Petersen was a decent replacement for Keet in goal, whilst Mxolisi Macuphu returning from loan was an upgrade on what they had in attack. Guys like Phathutshedzo Nange and Zitha Macheke are solid enough, but don’t improve the first XI.

Rating: C

They held onto Thulani Hlatshwayo and Thabang Monare amid interest from the top clubs, but their starting XI looks weaker than last season. Signing Prince Nxumalo was always going to flop, and he has been released already without playing a game.

Black Leopards

Leopards picked up 73% of their points at home last season and really needed to make themselves more solid at the back in this window. Instead, they let go of their captain in Jean Munganga – who was arguably not PSL material anyway – and put his deputy as first choice, signing no centre backs.

Marks Munyai was ably replaced by Thabo Matlaba, but Lehlohonolo Masalesa was a big loss and they did not sign a top defensive midfielder to replace him. Thuso Phala, Mogakolodi Ngele and Cuthbert Malajila set pulses racing, but none of them have played at a high level for years, especially the latter duo. This looks like signing on reputation over actual quality.

One absolutely brilliant addition though is goalkeeper, Jonas Mendes. He looks a top signing and already won the side three points by saving a penalty at Maritzburg United in a 1-0 win. Dax is also a very useful addition from Kaizer Chiefs, who may regret letting him go.

Rating: C+

The veteran attackers signed all look like misguided additions, but holding onto Mwape Musonda, assuming he applies himself, is a big boost. They are better in goal, but need to be with no upgrades at centre back or at defensive midfielder. Jonas Mendes and Dax look like good purchases.

Bloemfontein Celtic

Siwelele had a good campaign last time out, doing excellently in trying circumstances under Steve Komphela and not dropping off too much under Hloni Seema. They lost Bongani Sam, Kabelo Dlamini and Tshegofatso Mabasa to Orlando Pirates, whilst Patrick Tignyemb is no longer around.

However, they held onto their key men in Ndumiso Mabena and Lantshene Phalane, got Jackson Mabokgwane as a replacement in goal and added Harris Tchilimbou to bolster the midfield.

Rating: C+

They didn’t improve the side, but replaced Tignyemb and Dlamini well, and have Ronald Pfumbidzai to replace Sam. Holding onto their key men was huge, so despite the sentiment that they lost big players, they’re fine.

Cape Town City FC

The side didn’t lose anyone crucial in the window, just good players in areas where they have depth. Teko Modise was ably replaced by Mpho Makola, and Abbubaker Mobara adds competition in three positions. Fagrie Lakay joined too, as a replacement for out-going Gift Links as a winger or to add more pace upfront as a striker.

Rating: B+

The side retained their best players, added some depth and still have three key men to return from injury. Getting Robyn Johannes would have been a massive improvement in defence and surely have made them genuine title contenders, but they look missed out on that deal, as well as a late move for Aubrey Ngoma.

Chippa United

As is so often the case, Chippa have signed new players in the double figures. Their starting goalkeeper and three of their first-choice back four all left the club, but they got Patrick Tignyemb as an undoubted upgrade on Mbongeni Mzimela. In defence, they look a little weaker with Tebogo Tlolane and Gladwin Shitolo gone, but Lehlohonolo Masalesa is a top addition in midfield when fit.

Rating: C-

The side did not get any better and having almost an entirely new defence and goalkeeper will take time to bed in. They also didn’t get much-needed extra firepower in attack.

Lamontville Golden Arrows

The club lost several experienced players from their squad, as well as their key defender in Limbikani Mzava. Younger players have mostly come in, but Edmore Sibanda in an upgrade for their troubling goalkeeping position, and Gladwin Shitolo adds steel to midfield or defence.

Rating: D

Komphela probably needed some upgrades in certain areas, and instead lost his best defender without a genuine replacement. Expect loads of young players to get chances and Komphela working his magic tactically will be key to avoid a relegation battle.

Highlands Park

After a competitive first season back in the PSL, the club splashed out big salaries on several free agents, who almost all look perfectly suited to the club’s abrasive style of play. They upgraded weak areas like goalkeeper (Thela Ngobeni) and centre back (Limbikani Mzava), whilst Rodney Ramagalela, Marks Munyai and Makhehlene Makhaula look perfect for the club.

Rating: A-

This would be an A, but having started preseason on 12 June, half the squad is dropping like flies with injuries including new signings Mzava and Makhaula, who were looking great but could now have long-term injuries. No important players departed the club.

Kaizer Chiefs

Chiefs promised a clearout, but their departures list is mostly rarely-used squad players. Teenage Hadebe was sold as well as Hendrick Ekstein and Dax – the side’s two best pressing midfielders – are both gone from last season.

The side brought in four players from outside South Africa to bolster the squad and Samir Nurkovic looks a real find and Kearyn Baccus has shown some potential. Lazarous Kambole has got into good positions but is yet to score, whilst James Kotei is yet to debut and that is undoubtedly for a good reason.

It’s hard to think that Ernst Middendorp was behind the departures of Ekstein and Dax having lavished them with praise last season and it does not look like the coach has influence over transfers.

Rating: C

The biggest deal was holding onto Khama Billiat amid Sundowns interest, whilst Nurkovic could be one of the season’s best signings. Leonardo Castro also stayed after a strong pre-season and has a point to prove.

Hadebe won’t be missed too much and the biggest boost is getting players within their squad fit again, making them “like new signings” as the cliché goes. The issues in central midfield were not addressed enough though, and they lag behind half a dozen PSL sides in that area.

Mamelodi Sundowns

This has been a relatively quiet window for the club, with just two signings as part of the immediate plans. Target man, Mauricio Affonso has come in, but has had two ankle injuries and is yet to debut. Whether he will even get starts ahead of Lebohang Maboe is doubtful, as is whether a tall striker suits Sundowns.

It’s more likely he will be a rarely-used Plan B. Sammy Seabi is a solid addition but no better than anyone the side has. The club also signed former Bafana Bafana striker Tokelo Rantie who signed a 3-year deal but doubts remain about his fitness.

Of course, Sundowns were targeting Billiat and Aubrey Modiba and got neither. Both would have been outstanding signings and they will likely revisit those bids in January.

Rating: C

A quiet window, but then Sundowns weren’t desperately in need of strengthening. They did well to get some deadwood off the books to maintain squad morale. However, they did not get their targets and signed an ill-suited 6’3″ striker so the side is also no stronger than last year.

Matitzburg United

It was a very busy window for Maritzburg, with the main news being that two of their best players in Fortune Makaringe and Siphesihle Ndlovu left the building. Daylon Claasen is a reasonable replacement for one of them, but the midfield looks a lot weaker with uninspiring other additions.

The defence has been boosted in-depth, and Brockie makes it six strikers on the books – an unmanageable situation – so that signing made little sense.

Missing out of Jose Ali Meza from Sundowns was a blow as he would have added pace and versatility to the attack or wide areas.

Rating: C

This was a good window for depth, but not for quality. The two departures will hit the side hard, and the lineup lacks real difference-makers. Instead, Eric Tinkler is going to need to change games from the bench or with clever tactical setups to get points. Already this season, they have dominated Stellenbosch and Black Leopards but failed to score.

Orlando Pirates

This was an extremely busy window for Pirates, with lots of younger players signed, many of whom have just one or two years of regular football to their name in the PSL. Fortune Makaringe and Gabadinho Mhango are the two who look ready to be regular rotation options, but arguably none of the new signings are first XI players and certainly don’t upgrade in the short-term.

The side really needed to strengthen in goal and at centre back in this window. They signed Feyenoord’s third-choice goalkeeper, Joris Delle, but he is yet to play and may not even be an upgrade. At centre back, they lost Marshall Munetsi and offloaded many depth options, without signing any replacements, never mind an upgrade.

Rating: C

This was a transfer window for the future. The depth of the squad is better, and some big names who were not playing were offloaded. However, the squad looks top-heavy and the backline got weaker with Munetsi’s sale.

Polokwane City

This was a quiet window for Rise and Shine, but the club did not really need much business in terms of players signed. They added depth in goal and a very promising winger is Sibusiso Hlubi, but Sammy Seabi left the club for Sundowns.

He was largely on the bench in the final three months of last season, with little change to the side’s fortunes, so he is not an insurmountable loss. Ramagalela left half-way through last season, but the side did not really miss him.

Rating: B-

They did not disrupt the squad too much and that continuity has been key in the last two off-season windows. Perhaps a better replacement for Seabi than Eden Nene would have been welcome, but the squad still appears in good shape for a top 8 challenge.

Stellenbosch FC

This was a huge window for the club, who desperately needed to add proven PSL players to their squad. The only player of note who they lost was Abednego Mosiatlhaga, whose loan spell from Wits came to an end. In came Morgan Gould and Marc Van Heerden, as much for their character as their footballing ability.

Boy De Jong looks a real upgrade in goal, whilst Nyiko Mobbie arriving on loan at right-back was a coup. Ryan Moon also arrived on a free and gives aerial ability, but Mpho Matsi looked like an NFD player on loan at Maritzburg and the midfield could have done with more quality.

A couple of good NFD players arrived like Dillon Solomons and Diego Franco and they will need to hit the ground running otherwise the side just won’t have enough service for Moon and last season’s top scorer, Iqraam Rayners.

The big news is that Robyn Johannes joined the club on a 2-year deal and represents a superb signing. Although 33 years old, he is still one of the league’s best defenders and his arrival would allow a more attacking approach.

Rating: A

The side did decent strengthening and seem relatively happy with the work they have done within their financial constraints. Perhaps one proven PSL goal creator and a better defensive midfielder could have been targeted too, though.

Supersport United

Considering Kaitano Tembo’s side had to field bids for Evans Rusike, Teboho Mokoena, Bradley Grobler and Aubrey Modiba, they have done some amazing work to hold onto all of them. They lost Mxolisi Macuphu after his excellent loan spell, but Thamsanqa Gabuza is a solid replacement as the side’s long-ball target and battering ram.

Thabo Qalinge and Kudakwashe Mahachi add numbers to an already stacked pool of wingers and getting both was overkill – they had four wingers on the bench against Sundowns in the MTN8 semi-final first leg and Thabo Mnyamane was not even in the squad!

Veterans in Gould and Reneilwe Letsholonyane were released to open up more games for Sipho Mbule, Jamie Webber and Luke Fleurs, but they may have left themselves short if Dean Furman or Clayton Daniels get injured.

Rating: B+

Keeping their best players and having continuity in the squad were the key factors. Gabuza, Qalinge and Mahachi are reasonably good additions, but not getting another central defender may hurt them down the line.

The Best PSL Signings

Jonas Mendes – BLACK LEOPARDS

Daylon Claasen – MARITZBURG UNITED

Fortune Makaringe -ORLANDO PIRATES

Samir Nurkovic – KAIZER CHIEFS

Limbikani Mzava – HIGHLANDS PARK

Robyn Johannes -STELLENBOSCH UNITED

The Worst PSL Signings

Mpho Matsi – STELLENBOSCH FC

Mogakolodi Ngele – BLACK LEOPARDS

Cuthbert Malajila – BLACK LEOPARDS

Thuso Phala – BLACK LEOPARDS

Thamsanga Sangweni – MARITZBURG UNITED

Prince Nxumalo – BIDVEST WITS

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