PSL Transfer Window – Every Club’s Dealings Rated
By BET Contributor
As the window slams shut in the DSTV Premiership and the 16 clubs have completed their transfer activity, we look at the business done by each team, whether they have improved their starting XI and squad depth and give each club a grading.
A year ago, AmaZulu were rated D for their transfer business and it is no wonder that they battled relegation. They have gone big this time around, under a new owner, intending to be the biggest club in the country by 2032. Luvuyo Memela and Limbikani Mzava are excellent additions whilst Augustine Mulenga and Makhehlene Makhaula should both do well.
It remains to be seen if there is anything left in the legs of Siphiwe Tshabalala and Siphelele Mthembu whilst Xola Mlambo needs to have the team set up around him to thrive. Veli Mothwa also came in from Chippa United and should be more reliable than Siyabonga Mbatha. Sadly, Anele Ngcongca passed away after joining Usuthu and the legend would have brought so much to the table. Deadline day also saw Phakamani Mahlambi arrive on loan. If he can put off-field distractions aside, he could be a top addition.
A really good window by the club who addressed many problems areas but still may be a little frail defensively. Although many of the signings are older or ones who don’t contribute much out of possession, they added quality and entertainment value. Expect a lot more goals to be scored but plenty conceded too. Memela is one of the best additions made in this window and has been superb so far.
Bakgaka have had one of their most stable transfer windows in a while. With just seven signings as opposed to the usual 20 odd per window means they can build on what they did last season. The side still lacks some quality in certain areas and it doesn’t look like any of the signings are upgrades on what they already had, but they retained their best players like Bonginkosi Makume and Goodman Mosele. Their more basic 4-4-2 style of play means shouldn’t be any worse than last season but probably not any better.
This rating is a C for continuity but they didn’t really improve the starting XI or the squad depth and their best business was simply not selling any top players. Every season, Baroka find some hidden gems (Evidence Makgopa, Thamsanqa Masiya and Nhlanhla Mgaga last term) but this time around they look to be relying on those players continuing to improve.
Leopards made plenty of mistakes prior to last season as veterans came in who had not played in years whilst the backline was not strengthened. However, they went and got the sturdy Edwin Gyimah outside the window and he has proven quite solid. The problem for Leopards is that they lost arguably their three best players in Mwape Musonda, Khuliso Mudau and Lesedi Kapinga. They have gone for bargain replacements and right-back looks a problem area whilst it’s a big ask for Rodney Ramagalela to replace the goals of Musonda and for someone like Ovidy Karuru to cover the creativity of Kapinga.
Dylan Kerr won’t have things easy with the lack of quality scorers and creators. If he can get the defence solid, and with a couple of vastly experienced defensive midfielders in front of that (Lehlogonolo Masalesa has joined), then he could scrape some 1-0 wins to keep the side safe perhaps. However, this season looks likely to be a struggle and only a hot streak in the bio-bubble from Musonda kept them up last term and that fall-back no longer exists.
Celtic had a quiet window. They renewed their loan for Justice Chabalala and added a pure winger in Jabulani Ncobeni but little other significant business was done. They did see Wandisile Letlabika leave but they held on to key men like Ndumiso Mabena and Lantshene Phalane and they have enough versatile options to cover gaps in either a 4-2-3-1 or 3-4-3 shape.
The best XI didn’t improve and arguably got a little weaker with Letlabika’s departure but holding onto their best players and the continuity in the camp even after Hloni Seema left for Chippa United means that there is little disruption. It’s no wonder they have already made a cup final this season and they are certainly an entertaining side to watch when they attack but also capable of parking a very big bus.
Cape Town City
City lost their best player in the transfer window as Kermit Erasmus was sold to Mamelodi Sundowns to raise funds amid some cutbacks to the club’s playing and coaching budgets. Roland Putsche left towards the end of last season and hasn’t been replaced. Terrence Mashego looks a good upgrade on Ebrahim Seedat in the injury absence of Edmilson Dove at left-back.
Upfront, the side looks a little short. Prince Opoku Agyemang has scored already and could do well but is highly unlikely to hit Erasmus’ heights and who knows if Aubrey Ngoma still has anything to add with his fitness and injury issues.
After a tough season last time out, City lost their best player and didn’t upgrade any position in the starting XI. Putsche may have struggled for fitness last season but he is a real loss too. The pandemic has forced some cutbacks at the club so they have probably done okay in those circumstances but it’s hard to see them improving.
The Chili Boys have made just the 12 signings this season, around half as many as they made over the course of last season. Bienvenu Eva Nga has already scored a hattrick while the other signings included several talented wingers (Maloisane, Mogakwe, Dinge) and a few sturdy but basic defensive additions including once-capped Bafana international Isaac Nhlapo and the PSL’s own Rory Delap clone, Ryan Rae.
The side has offloaded a lot of players from last season and the likes of Thabo Rakhale, Tercious Malepe and Ruzaigh Gamildien are all big losses and guys they really should have held onto. The big news was selling captain Veli Mothwa to AmaZulu in a bizarre move. He had held the team together throughout last season and his departure may make Chippa major relegation candidates.
The transfer window was probably around a D until the somewhat crazy decision to sell Veli Mothwa. Unless Chippa have quietly signed a replacement goalkeeper, they could be in real trouble. The team looks weaker in all areas expect at number nine with Augustine Kwem and Eva Nga giving two good focal points for Hloni Seema to choose from. The coach is going to have to work wonders this term with many unproven players at this level.
As always, Arrows have had a quiet transfer window. For many seasons, continuity is the name of the game in Durban. Even Steve Komphela’s departure as head coach simply saw Mandla Ncikazi step up from assistant to leader. Their dealings have included renewing Gladwin Shitolo’s loan, getting Mthokozisi Dube as a bench warmer at right-back (a weird move for Arrows, the player and parent club Pirates) and bringing in talented winger Pule Mmodi. The main departures were older players including Danny Venter and Lerato Lamola.
Arrows didn’t get any better in this window but also didn’t get any worse. Ncikazi should do a decent job and the club is likely to flit between seventh and 11th spot and probably settle somewhere in the middle of that range by the conclusion.
After last season’s transformative signing of Samir Nurkovic thanks to Ernst Middendorp’s network of contacts, this off season has seen a transfer ban. The club has likely signed S’fiso Hlanti and Phathu Nange and loaned them out for a year but the squad is basically the same. An opportunity was probably missed by not recalling Given Thibedi to provide more options in midfield. It’s a real pity because if Amakhosi had been able to sign players, Gavin Hunt could have attracted many of the castoffs from Bidvest Wits, as Sundowns and Pirates have gone, whilst Hlanti and Nange would have strengthened real problems positions.
At least no one else has left besides George Maluleka, whose departure happened prior to the restart. His loss was felt immediately and that won’t change until a replacement is signed. Chiefs have held onto Khama Billiat and Samir Nurkovic at least after reported interest from North Africa.
After a quiet transfer window a year ago, Sundowns went huge this time around. Not only did they spent a good R60m plus on transfer fees and additional salaries on their wage bill, but they also accelerated a transition away from their older players. Anele Ngcongca, prior to his tragic passing, was set for a loan while Wayne Arendse and Anthony Laffor were released. Midfielder Tiyani Mabunda is nowhere to be seen.
In came 15 new players (12 newly signed and three returning loanees). Some are certain to fail and looked bizarre additions (Gift Motupa and Brian Onyango) but the signings of Kermit Erasmus and Peter Shalulile have hit the ground running whilst Aubrey Modiba, Ricardo Goss and Haashim Domingo look like excellent ones for years to come.
There is really nothing more Sundowns could have done to strengthen. Shalulile and Erasmus immediately make the best XI stronger and Modiba will likely establish himself in time. Perhaps the only downsides have been the disruption caused by going a little overboard with depth signings, the strange initial decision to not keep Anele Ngcongca and the fact that Gaston Sirino wants to leave to join Al Ahly.
The big question for Maritzburg was whether they could hold onto Richard Ofori and Rushine De Reuck. The former ended up going but they kept the latter. Sebastian Mwange has come in for Ofori and has now started to play after a work permit delay. He looks a good ‘keeper but still a major downgrade.
The club went out and made a few good additions. After missing out of Jose Ali Meza a year ago, the club pushed the boat out salary-wise to get him in this window whilst Fares Hachi is a good signing at left back and both Phumlani Ntshangase and Tebogo Tlolane were retained after loans last year.
Losing Ofori is a big blow of course but keeping De Reuck and their top loan players plus getting Meza is good business. Sibusiso Hlubi and Tyroane Sandows can add something on the flanks when fully fit too. After relatively late business and the delays over their three foreign additions in being signed and registered, it is strange that the club did not realise their own fault in the slow start to the season and laid the blame solely at the feet of Eric Tinkler.
For the second off-season in a row, Pirates had a big window with established PSL players brought in. Thabang Monare, Thulani Hlatshwayo and Deon Hotto are all very good additions from Bidvest Wits but are all around the 29-31 mark and have been signed to deliver right away.
Terrence Dzvukamanja is a top addition to replace Luvuyo Memela but the latter will be a massive miss for his creativity. Richard Ofori is an excellent signing in goal despite his recent howler but the right-back area probably hasn’t really been solved with Wayde Jooste.
After a transfer window last season with the future in mind, this one has been all about winning now. Established, vastly experienced additions make the best XI stronger in three-four areas but there is still a feeling that the club is going to regret letting Memela leave with a lack of creativity and goals already evident.
Stellies arguably had the best transfer window in the league a year ago in terms of upgrading their starting XI. Many good moves were made in January to get Nathan Sinkala and stalwarts like Asavela Mbekile and Granwald Scott. This time around, they have added Zitha Macheke to replace Nyiko Mobbie and signed Solly Khunyedi to replace Iqraam Rayners. Phathu Nange looks a really strong signing in central midfield too, and he is the one upgrade to the starting XI perhaps.
A good window that will look even better if Junior Mendieta settles quickly as the number ten. Nange is top signing and Macheke is a solid addition to replace Mobbie after his loan ended. Generally, the side is going to miss Rayners’ pace and end product and possibly one more reliable, proven striker or wide forward could have been added.
SuperSport have essentially added one player who will regularly push for the starting XI in Iqraam Rayners(free transfer). A couple of talented youngsters arrived from Bidvest Wits in the shape of Keanan Phillips and Mpho Mathebula as well as a rusty Lucky Mohomi but it’s been a quiet window for incomings.
On the outgoing front, it’s been a bad window. For years, SuperSport have relied on the leadership of Dean Furman and Clayton Daniels and have really lacked depth if either got injured. They have lost both in the same transfer window. Daniels was released on deadline day after a reported dispute with Kaitano Tembo, though the club statement said younger defenders were set to be preferred. No one should buy that story. The club also sold Aubrey Modiba to Sundowns. the good news is they held onto Bradley Grobler and Teboho Mokoena.
The club lost three of their best players and it’s not certain that Mohomi will stay fit enough to add a great deal. Rayners, whilst a good addition, is not an upgrade on the likes of Evans Rusike on that left flank. Furman and Daniels will be massive losses.
The Dube Birds had to make major additions as last season’s squad wasn’t good enough for the DSTV Premiership. They went out and signed 22 new players, albeit three of those were loanees from Kaizer Chiefs who have already returned to their parent club. There is no doubt that some very impressive signings were made, not least S’fiso Hlanti, Ruzaigh Gamildien and Wandisile Letlabika whilst Njabulo Ngcobo looks a sturdy addition too.
However, there was a scattergun approach as Hlanti was the third left-back they signed while numerous deeper-lying midfielders were added and an overkill of wingers too perhaps. At one point, they seemed to be signing every free agent available only to later bring in another free agent in the same position.
Despite lacking some joined-up thinking in their recruitment, the side no doubt got significantly stronger in defensive areas, added plenty of versatile players and have lots of attacking options to call upon down the flanks even if none is likely to set the league alight. Some of the additions are bound to be released in January or before (Phetso Maphanga for example) but at least the starting XI and bench is now good enough for the PSL. With a top coach in Brandon Truter, he is (and can) make a lot of what he has been given to work with.
Tim Sukazi has gone with the opposite approach to TTM, who only kept two players from Bidvest Wits and sold/released the rest. TS Galaxy took over Highlands Park and held onto a large number of that squad, knowing the PSL experience they would bring. 12 players have moved to join The Rockets from The Lions of the North as well as a further 13 signings from other clubs.
It’s not clear exactly who the best additions are but Luckyboy Mokoena has been linked with the top clubs and is a fine signing whilst Mxolisi Macuphu is a good addition on paper but coach Dan Malesela’s style of play is unlikely to see him selected or to receive any real service when he does start.
Essentially, TS Galaxy are a dozen Highlands Park players from last season, short of some of the best players like Peter Shalulile or Mothobi Mvala, with some average PSL or First Division players added to that. It may not be a squad good enough to stay up, especially on the goalscoring front, but at least the transfer window feels like it’s been conducted professionally and the understanding between the players joining from Highlands should prove useful.
Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila
TTM have had a tumultuous transfer window. From signing Oupa Manyisa and Joseph Molangoane months before the season and terminating both their deals soon after, to announcing new signings like Augustine Mulenga and Brian Onyango who then joined other clubs, to releasing Gustavo Paez shortly after he joined… to already struggling to pay the salaries of their 23 new signings!
As for actual additions, practically their entire starting XI are new signings but they have also seemingly signed quite randomly. Signing two right back in Diamond Thopola and Nicholus Lukhubeni was strange and the squad is packed with number tens after Meshack Maphangule, Mogakolodi Ngele and Celimpilo Ngema all joined. They also added four genuine number nines (Paez included) so they have not made the most of their financial resources.
TTM get a D for Disaster for the incompetence of some of their dealings plus the fact that everything is soon likely to come crashing down over unpaid wages. The best signings look to be Thabo Rakhale, who is still very good, and Justin Shonga in attack. At the back, getting vastly experienced guys was probably wise whilst both Maphangule and Ngema are good signings too.
Expect to see at least half a dozen (and maybe even more) of their off season signings released or terminated by 31 January.