by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – AN increase in prize money and a flurry of signings made in the transfer window period paves way for what is anticipated to be an intriguing South African premier football division.
The Absa Premiership kicks off with a blockbuster Tshwane Derby between defending champions, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.
Prize money for the 23rd edition of the competition has been increased from R29,5 million to R39,9 million, a leap of 35 percent from last decade.
The winners will pocket 50 percent more in the form of the R15 million pay-day.
Sundowns, the most successful side in the Premiership era, will be aiming to clinch the title for the tenth time.
Orlando Pirates will meanwhile welcome Bloemfontein Celtic to the Orlando Stadium in their opening fixture also on Saturday.
Also on Saturday, Chippa United welcome newboys Stellenbosch to the Nelson Mandela Bay.
Baroka host Cape Town City at the Old Peter Mokaba and AmaZulu entertain visitors Bidvest Wits at King Zwelithini.
On Sunday, under-pressure Kaizer Chiefs visit Highlands Park at Makhulong in Tembisa, north of Johannesburg.
Two derbies will be contested as Black Leopards host Limpopo rivals Polokwane City at the hostile Thohoyandou Stadium and Golden Arrows welcome fellow KwaZulu-Natal side, Maritzburg United at Sugar Ray Xulu.
Meanwhile, stakes will be high in the first division after the Premier Soccer League secured a sponsor.
GladAfrica Group has come on board.
The 2019/20 GladAfrica Championship champions will pocket R3 million.
ABSA Premiership Weekend Fixtures
SATURDAY, 3rd August
Chippa United Vs Stellenbosch, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium (15:00Hrs)
Baroka FC Vs Cape Town City FC, Old Peter Mokaba Stadium (15:00Hrs)
Mamelodi Sundowns Vs SuperSport United, Lucas Moripe Stadium (15:00Hrs
Orlando Pirates Vs Bloemfontein Celtic, Orlando Stadium (18:00Hrs)
AmaZulu FC Vs Bidvest Wits, King Zwelithini Stadium (20:15Hrs)
SUNDAY, 4th August
Black Leopards Vs Polokwane City, Thohoyandou Stadium (15:00Hrs)
Highlands Park Vs Kaizer Chiefs, Makhulong Stadium (15:00Hrs)
Golden Arrows Vs Maritzburg United, Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium (15:00Hrs)
– CAJ News