’Mamelodi Sundowns are the team to beat’, says Teko Modise ahead of the new season
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IOL Sport's Zaahier Adams catches up with former Bafana Bafana playmaker and two-times Dstv Premiership winner Teko Modise for his views on the upcoming 2021/22 season ahead of today's Carling Cup opener between Kaizer Chiefs and his former team Orlando Pirates.
1. Kaizer Chiefs have splashed their cheque book in pre-season. How do you think the Amakhosi will shape up this season?
I think it's going to be an exciting season. I think right now it really is interesting to see how the teams are restructuring, especially Kaizer Chiefs in the way they are signing all these new players because they couldn’t last season. I think it will be interesting to see how they actually form a team, because it's one thing signing all these superstars and actually making a team out of it. They do have a good coach (Stuart Baxter) that has been successful with them before. It is very exciting with the Carling Cup coming up on Sunday. I think it sets the tone for the league for both teams.I think in regards to Orlando Pirates that have been coming short the last three years. I think they are also thinking that this is the season they can go all out and win it.
2. What impact will Keagan Dolly have at Amakhosi?
I think Kaizer Chiefs have always been a team that they have someone who they look up to, someone who carries the team. Keagan Dolly coming in with his experience, I think they needed that. They had that with Khama Billiat, but with all his injuries he was never on the pitch. But now they have Keagan Dolly, (Leonardo) Castro and Billiat. I think people are looking forward to "The CBD" and whether it will work again. I think with that understanding of themselves they will bring a different dimension to the team and that’s what they need. You need that when you start afresh with a new coach.
3. Can Chiefs youngsters Happy Mashiane and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo maintain their form or will they suffer from second season syndrome?
What happened to Chiefs was a blessing and a curse. I think the overhaul wouldn’t have happened if they didn't really look at the team. If you look at all the youngsters that were given a chance last season, especially with the experience of playing in the CAF Champions League, I think there is only way for these young boys to go. The Mashiane's ... the Ngcobo's ... to take the step further and grow in the national team. I was happy that they were so young and given that exposure at such a young age. Coming into the league this season, they will play differently to their peers because of the experience that they have. They are also in an exciting space within themselves too, where they get exposure in a short period of time. That's what you need as a youngster to be thrown under the bus, and with a new coach that believes in the youngsters, it will be a good fit for them.
4. And what another of your former teams Cape Town City … how will they fare?
Cape Town City is always going to be that side that enjoys being in the top four/five. With the quality that they have, I still believe in my soul that they are a team that can win the league if they keep the team together for longer. I have always felt that they are in re-building space because they bring in new faces every season, so it looks like you are rebuilding every season. I think they do have the quality and the best part about them is that nobody plays like them in the league. They are the best passers of the football in the league. It is exciting watching City every time they play. That's one thing they bring with them to the league is that they play with no fear, and total dominance. I've seen Cape Town City play against big guns where the opposition really struggle. That's what I love about Cape Town City.
5. Can Benni McCarthy repeat his magic with AmaZulu?
I hope it’s not a one-season wonder. But I know what Benni's character is like. He is a winner! I think with Amazulu, they have now seen the potential that they do have. I think Benni will go all out. I think the one thing they need to keep in mind is that the league is a marathon and that they need to pace themselves. I think they have done well for themselves last season, and people expect them now to do better. I honestly think that if there were fans last season, Amazulu would have won the league.
6. But can anyone stop the Sundowns juggernaut?
Sundowns are the team to beat. For the last 10 years they have been the team to beat. What gives Sundowns an advantage every season is the way they beef up their squad. I don't think the league is the priority for Sundowns. It is the Champions League. You just need to look at their signings. They want to get back to that space.
The question should be ... who is the team to actually chase Sundowns? I have always believed that to be Orlando Pirates. They have the players and the squad. It is up to them to realise their potential. I thought after they won the MTN8 that they would realise their potential and actually go and chase Sundowns. But now this season they have an opportunity.