Opta Jabu combs through the numbers to bring out the biggest winners and losers from this weekend’s domestic football action.
Kaizer Chiefs Pacesetters – Winner
On Saturday (as with many days), Arthur Zwane’s demeanour didn’t change much as all five goals went in. At 2-0, the chess face could be excused as one of someone who has seen this movie before. He has. It was this week in March 2002 that Muhsin Ertugral’s Kaizer Chiefs thrashed Swallows 5-1, with Arthur Zwane scoring the fifth. This is the last time Chiefs went 2-0 up within the first 10 minutes of a league game, 21 years ago.
In fact, the last three games have seen Chiefs open the scoring in the 8th, 11th & 5th minutes. They have lost once since the start of last season when they scored first in the opening 15 minutes. On the contrary, they have won 2 in 19 when the opposition scored first. A pacesetting Chiefs is better than a game-chasing Chiefs. But this was far from the perfect performance. And far from performance for a CAF-position chasing team aiming. Yet, there are times in football when the result matters more than the show. With one quarter of the season remaining and a CAF position on the line, this may be one of those periods.
Zwane will be annoyed by his team’s sloppiness in allowing Maritzburg to get back into the game. At the same time, he will appreciate how they responded to that set-back in front of a hostile crowd. This was the first time in a while that they found themselves in this pressure situation away from home at the break. But a more controlled second half ensured yet another three points.
4 – Chiefs have now won four consecutive games across all competitions for the first time since April 2017 (also 4), with Arthur Zwane the first Chiefs coach to oversee such a run since Steve Komphela.
Jose Riveiro Beating A Top – Winner
Orlando Pirates have made great strides under Jose Riveiro this season, but one obvious flaw remains: their record against teams that are currently in the top five has been nothing but abysmal. In the six matches against Cape Town City (1), Sundowns (2), Chiefs (2), and SuperSport (1 before this weekend), Pirates had scored one goal, drawn one, and lost five. This result could be the one that turns this around. Hypothetically speaking, had they won those five games, they would be one point behind Sundowns. The inability to beat the bigger teams is one of the reasons they’ve failed to keep up with the league leaders, but it’s not the only reason.
2 – This was Pirates’ 10th game since the World Cup break, but only their second clean sheet.
An Imaginary League – Winner
Remove Sundowns from the top of the PSL table, and you have a thrilling three-way title race. Remove Sundowns from the top of the PSL table, and the Top 8 are separated by just 10 points. Remove Sundowns from the top of the PSL table, and this past weekend’s narrative would have been about a top-of the table clash. The team in 2nd would have narrowed the gap at the top to just two points, while the team in 3rd would have also kept up with the pace with a 3-2 away win in difficult conditions. With seven games to go, there’d be a title race. Ah, the beauty of dreams.
Sundowns Without Kicking A Ball – Winner
Instead, we’re potentially 90 minutes away from crowning Sundowns yet again. Without kicking a ball, they saw the minimum requirement for winning the league reduced from 4 to 2 points. Indeed, they may even win the title before they next take to the field.
5 – This could be the earliest PSL title victory in terms of remaining matches since Sundowns were confirmed champions with 5 games to play in 2006/7.
Stellenbosch – Winner
Seven games unbeaten now in all competitions, and through to their first Nedbank Cup quarter-final too. The recent run has alleviated any lingering fears of a relegation scrap, but Steve Barker will be more impressed by the clean sheet earned on the weekend.
4 – This was only Stellies’ second clean sheet in 13 matches, while their total of four is the joint-lowest in the league.
Golden Arrows – Winner
A first away clean sheet since the World Cup, and Arrows look like they are edging closer to safety.
TS Galaxy – Winner
Since losing to Sundowns towards the end of January, Sead Ramovic’s side have won 11 of the available 15 points. They’ve scored the joint-most goals in that time (10) and conceded the fewest (1). This was an impressive romp at home to a side that was once renowned for their strong defence.
AmaZulu – Loser
AmaZulu came into this game just one point behind Stellenbosch, and the loss means they have just been overtaken on the table. The league table and the narrow 2-0 scoreline would imply that the two teams are in the same bracket. But the gap between the two clubs is bigger, and the difference is epitomised by the respective dugouts. In the red corner, we have an experienced coach, with a support team of 10+ years, overseeing the youngest team in the land. In the green corner, we have an inexperienced coach, under immense pressure to prove his worth, while overseeing one of the oldest teams in the division. The teams seem to be travelling in different directions.
They are probably safe from any relegation troubles, but it is now just two wins in nine across competitions, with little left to play for. How they must wish they could have Benni McCarthy back.
1 – This was the first time AmaZulu lost a league game against Stellenbosch since their promotion.
Gavin Hunt – Loser
While at SuperSport, Gavin Hunt has won just one of his last six league games v Orlando Pirates (W0 D2 L4, 2011 – 2013 + 2022-23). This is the longest he’s gone without a win against any team while in charge at SuperSport. He had five-match winless runs against Santos, Ajax & Arrows.
SuperSport At Orlando Stadium – Loser
Yet, he is not the one to take sole blame. As a club, SuperSport have been disappointing in this fixture for over a decade. Since December 2011, twelve visits have yielded one win, with each of the last five resulting in defeat.
Swallows – Loser
Three consecutive home defeats are the last thing you need when fighting relegation.
Richards Bay – Loser
Richards Bay are the first side to lose five consecutive league games this season. They are safe from the drop, but their Top8 place could be in jeopardy.