Opta Jabu combs through the numbers to bring out the biggest winners and losers from this weekend’s domestic football action.
Orlando Pirates’ Improvement – Winner
If the last few games of a decided season are auditions for the next, Pirates should be favoured for the lead role. They are just one point behind their total points haul last season when they finished in a disappointing sixth place. They have three more wins than they managed throughout the last campaign, and there are still five games to go. Add to that, the MTN8 victory and a favourable draw in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals, and you have the most improved team in the division.
Not only have they improved from the previous campaign, but Jose Riveiro’s men have also improved within this particular season too. No team has scored as many goals in 2023 as Pirates (21) and with Sundowns slowing down a little after the title confirmation, that record may be intact for another couple of weeks.
Pirates’ Achilles heel in the past has been inconsistent, but they are getting something right at the moment. They have won four straight games, their best such run post-lockdown. The last time they went on a longer winning run was in January 2020 (6 in a row under Josef Zinnbauer). Should Riveiro mastermind another two league wins, he’ll equal the Pirates record for consecutive league wins in the PSL era.
In the last 10 games, Pirates have accumulated 24 points, which in an ordinary season would be title-winning form. This has come on the back of a strange phenomenon – the team that is known for drawing games (no team has more draws than Pirates’ 272 in PSL history) is not drawing games at all. It’s not the number of games that matters, but Pirates’ ability to convert draws into wins on a more regular basis that is worth paying attention to. Converting draws into wins (and later defeats into draws) is what title challenges are made of.
14 – Pirates haven’t drawn a game since October last year (W9 D5), the longest run without a draw for Pirates in PSL history.
Jose Riviero “Cooking” – Winner
Only Roy Barreto, Kostadin Papic (both 60%), and Gordon Igesund (56%) won a higher percentage of their first 25 league games at Orlando Pirates than José Riveiro (13/25 – 52%). If you add the five wins in six Cup games, you’re looking at a special first season for the Spaniard.
SuperSport’s Home Record – Winner
If Pirates converting draws into wins is what sets them up as potential challengers next season, then SuperSport’s home form is what could be their redeeming quality. Including five games last season, they have now set a new club record of 17 home matches unbeaten. Hunt’s men have three games to ensure a full season with no home loss.
7 – Only seven teams in PSL history have completed a full season without a home defeat.
Bradley Grobler – Winner
His 101st goal was the poacher’s finish we’ve become accustomed to seeing over the years. That’s 10+ league goals in four separate PSL seasons (2010/11, 2019/20, 2020/21 & 2022/23), a record he shares with only four players in PSL history (Siya Nomvete, Daniel Mudau & Peter Shalulile).
51 – This was Grobler’s 51 home goals in the league. In PSL history, only Mabhuti Khenyeza (52) scored more goals on his own turf.
Elias Pelembe – Winner
Aged 39 years 04 months 27 days, Elias Pelembe is the oldest player to score a league goal in the PSL since Siya Nomvete (41y 10d in 2018).
AmaZulu’s Comeback – Winner
AmaZulu have recovered more points after falling behind than any other team this season (13).
Royal AM – Winner
If 32 points is the new threshold for safety, Thwihli Thwahla are home & dry for yet another season. The comeback nature of the result may have been more impressive than the result itself.
2 – This was only the second time Royal AM won a league game after conceding the first goal.
Player Indiscipline – Loser
For a second successive game week, we saw three red cards in the league. While some of the red cards are for non-dangerous actions like handling outside the box, there have been quite a few for reckless play and overall indiscipline. When you see players walk off the field without even a single protest from the offender or their teammate, it’s hard to claim innocence in such. In fact, eight of the last ten game weeks have seen at least one red, with almost every team found guilty.
1 – Chippa are the only team yet to receive a red card this season.
TS Galaxy – Loser
Back-to-back defeats is hardly a crisis. But scoring in one of six away games this year could be considered one. With 30 points in the bag, they are probably safe from the chop. But why end there, when a place in the Top 8 is there for the taking? They need to find some goals, however..
14 – TS Galaxy have failed to score in more games than any other side this season (14).
Cape Town City Complacency – Loser
This was the first time in top-flight history where City led by 2+ at half-time and ended up not winning (100% win rate before).
Chippa United – Loser
Another few months, and another managerial change.
1 – Chippa have won just one game since the World Cup, the fewest of all sides (P11 W1 D5 L6).