Opta Jabu combs through the numbers to bring out the biggest winners and losers from this weekend’s domestic football action.
Stellenbosch – Winner
Wanting Stellenbosch FC to do well is not hard. The club has missed the memo on rotating coaches for a while now. Steve Barker began his seventh consecutive season at Stellenbosch (4 in the Premiership, 3 in the 1st division), making him currently the longest-serving coach at a particular club in the top flight. Not just that, this team has continually placed trust in young players, a trait many football followers care deeply about. Last season, Stellies played the average youngest team (24.8y). But the youth factor alone is not the main thing – these players constantly demonstrate their ability to rise to the occasion. It was fitting that a 21-year-old scored what would be the winner against the mighty Orlando Pirates.
1 – This was the first time Stellies won their opening league game in the top flight, having drawn each of the first four.
Mamelodi Sundowns – Winner
Another season, another opening-day win for the defending champions. 2007 is how far you have to go back for the last time Sundowns lost an opening game – a team featuring Brian Baloyi, Josta Dladla, Vuyo Mere, and Lungisani Ndlela lost to an AmaZulu side led by Clive Barker. If you’re having nightmares of the PSL turning into a farmers’ league, you can be forgiven – a competitive title race will benefit almost everyone involved in South African football. Yet, this wasn’t a straightforward game for Sundowns, who were forced into committing 17 fouls on the day, more than all sides on Matchday 1. No wonder, we saw two red cards in this one, a repeat of exactly 10 years ago.
4 August 2013 MatchDay 1: Downs see red & get a penalty, Celtic see red. Downs win.
4 August 2023 MatchDay 1: Downs see red & get a pen, Sekhukhune sees red. Downs win.
Gavin Hunt – Winner
A 26th season in the top-flight for “Big John”, one less than Sir Alex Ferguson enjoyed at ManU and four more than Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.
SuperSport United – Winner
As Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates stumbled to get out of the blocks, SuperSport have taken the early lead on the first PSL game week. Last season, they spent one day at the top of the table, and now are guaranteed at least three – that’s already one improvement.
1/62 – Under Gavin Hunt, SuperSport has only ever lost one home league game when scoring 1st (W58 D3 L1 across two spells at the club).
Terrence Dzvukamanja – Winner
The Zimbabwean striker may have switched clubs, but he still kept the same shooting boots and is having the year of his life.
8 – Terrence Dzvukamanja has scored eight goals in 2023, as many as he managed in the five calendar years before (8 in 85 apps since 2018).
Debuts scorers – Winner
It’s the first weekend of the season, so it is unsurprising to see new signings try and prove themselves. It’s important not to pile too much pressure early on, but we can still be hugely excited about the likes of Joaquim Paciencia and Lucas Ribeiro.
7 – Seven of the 10 goals scored on the weekend were scored by players making their 1st team debuts at their new clubs.
Orlando Pirates – Loser
The Nedbank Cup triumph at the end of last season (and the MTN8 win earlier) brought new levels of optimism to anyone associated with Orlando Pirates. It has been a long time since Pirates fans were so cheerful at the start of a season. When you add Cup victories to the volume (and quality) of signings made in the off-season, you can see why expectations are high. But the “high expectations” tag can be a double-edged sword – it means opponents will raise their game when they face you. It’s not exactly a fatal blow to their title aspirations, but losing the first game of the season is an unwelcome complication for Jose Riveiro. It also means Kosta Papic (2005 and 2006) remains the only Orlando Pirates coach to win back-to-back opening-day league games.
2 – Only two teams have won the PSL title after losing their first game of the season (1996/97 Manning Rangers & 2007/08 SuperSport).
Kaizer Chiefs – Loser
A 0-0 draw is not the worst result to start the season, but it looks worse when it comes as part of a streak. Including the end of last season, Chiefs have now failed to score in 270 minutes of play. Molefi Ntseki still has the challenge of understanding the key issue areas at the club, but there is one that is resoundingly clear – Amakhosi are not scoring. They haven’t scored more than one open play goal within 90 minutes since the start of April (10 competitive games, 2 friendlies). In the last 16 matches, they have done that twice. With Sundowns coming midweek, a quick solution must be found, otherwise, the opportunity to challenge may soon be missed.
1 – Only once before (2008/9) have both Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates won on Match Day 1.
Newly promoted sides – Loser
A baptism of fire, so to speak. Both Polokwane City and Cape Town Spurs fell to late goals on the opening weekend. They’ll need to learn the lessons fast.
A shortage of goals – Loser
10 – 10 goals were scored by all sides on MD1 weekend, the joint-lowest combined total for all teams in their season-opening games in PSL history (10 also last season).