OPINION: Soweto giants outclassed in transfer window
The Premier Soccer League transfer period may not be as exciting and closely watched as the English Premier League, but interestingly, a lot of good and bad business takes place where South African teams are involved.
The 2016/2017 transfer window was no different - in fact, it's probably the most exciting and surprising transfer window to date, or if you're supporting certain teams in the league, it might be the most dreadful window.
It has to go without saying that Mamelodi Sundowns came out on top of all other teams in this window, having made some great signings, bringing in quality players that will certainly bolster Pitso Mosimane's squad for the season that lies ahead.
Mosimane roped in the likes of the talented Lucky Mohomi from Free State Stars, Thapelo Morena from Bloemfontein Celtic - who's become a prominent feature in the Bafana Bafana squad recently - Sibusiso Vilakazi, a former PSL Player of the Year and one of the most sought after players of the last three seasons and lastly, on deadline day, experienced and reliable Bafana Bafana defender Anele Ngcongca - who was revealed as the big name signing on deadline day and a super signing, might I add.
As if Sundowns wasn't already a feared side in the league, after their incredible performance in last year's campaign and their current run in the CAF Champions League, they will certainly be devastating in this calendar and are expected to wipe the floor with every team that comes up against them.
Wits, in my opinion, is the second best team in this period, having made intelligent signings to beef the squad up where it severely lacked last year - which is one of the reasons that coach Gavin Hunt has given for his side faltering in the race against Sundowns.
Hunt has brought in Mokgakolodi Ngele and Cuthbert Malajila from Downs, in an exchange for his best player, Vilakazi. He's also added the height and experience of Eleazar Rodgers upfront, another swap deal with Platinum Stars for Henrico Botes - this is the trend for Hunt, he never lets go of talent for nothing in return. The makings of a shrewd football tactician.
The Clever Boys have also attracted former Bafana goalkeeper Darren Keet to the club from Belgium, a top signing that will give established keeper Moeneeb Josephs a run for his money.
Gabadinho Mhango, a very explosive player who can cause problems for defences, is another addition at the university - he joined from Golden Arrows, while the former Supersport United coach also brought in an exciting prospect in Thabang Monare from talent-grooming Jomo Cosmos.
The most interesting signing that Hunt made was that of former Wits boy Sfiso Myeni, he rejoined the club from Orlando Pirates after four years at the Buccaneers - where he ended up sidelined by coach Muhsin Ertugral.
It would be nothing short of criminal if Hunt, a winner of three successive league championships, does not walk away with a single piece of silverware with the squad he's built - but it won't be easy, because he's not the only one who's assembled a powerhouse.
Supersport, under the impeccable guidance of Stuart Baxter, did some appreciative reconstruction to their team as well, they even started before the transfer window opened on 1 July 2016, raiding Kaizer Chiefs for some of their unwanted resources.
Baxter added Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Reyaad Pieterse and Morgan Gould from the Glamour Boys and then put the cherry on top when he went for Amakhosi's former captain and the 2014/2015 PSL Player of the Year Tefu Mashamaite, who was in Sweden with BK Hacken for a year.
The former Chiefs mentor also threw young sensation Aubrey Modiba into the basket, along with left back Onismor Bhasera, to make his side one of the teams to watch this season.
Then there's the mighty Chiefs and Pirates, the pride of Soweto, the most supported teams in South Africa and the most successful teams in South African football history… who now have the dishonour of being the most lackluster teams in the transfer window.
It's one thing to not be a club that breaks the bank to sign a player but it's another to not adequately reinforce your team, after a dismal season that yielded no success and especially when your main rivals are going to the ends of the earth to make sure they acquire some heavy artillery to challenge for glory.
The Soweto giants have been frustratingly underwhelming in their business, more so, because they do have the resources, the pedigree and the symbolism attached to their names to attract whoever they want.
Yet, they found themselves scoring numerous own goals with the lack of impactful activity in the market.
Pirates brought in a ground-breaking two players in these last two months - Abbubaker Mobara and Riyaad Norodien from Ajax Cape Town - decent signings, that can offer you a lot, but not nearly enough for you to launch a meaningful attack on the likes of Sundowns and Wits.
Instead, the Buccaneers shed a lot of their players in the window, because of Ertugral's philosophy of not having big squads to work with. I certainly hope that with the small and uninspiring squad he has, he can do wonders.
Chiefs, on the other hand, scooped eight players…that's right, eight… but of those eight, there's honestly only two that one can sign any praises about.
Keagan Buchanan and Ramahlwe Mphahlele joined Chiefs from Celtic and Sundowns - a midfielder with superb vision and a right back who's raising eyebrows in the Bafana technical team, but other than those guys, coach Steve Komphela has little else to make a noise about.
And the truth about the lack of quality in his side reared its ugly head in the opening two games of the season where they lost 2-1 to Wits in the first league game and then 1-0 to Cape Town City in the MTN 8 quarter finals… clear warning signs that it's about to be a long season for the men at Naturena.
So, if you're not a Sundowns, Wits or at least Supersport fan, you're in for one of the longest and most heartbreaking seasons - and I so wish that I am wrong.
_Morena Mothupi is sports reporter at Eyewitness News. _ Follow him on Twitter @_Mrena.