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How Do PSL Teams Fare On Opening Day?

Few days are more exciting on the football calendar than the opening day of a PSL season.

Few days are more exciting on the football calendar than the opening day of a PSL season. From 9 August 1996, when the very first ball was kicked under the PSL tag, there have been 26 of these opening days altogether. Friday 5 August 2022 will be Number 27. Just like this weekend, Cape Town featured in the opening PSL matches 26 years ago, with Hellenic facing Cape Town Spurs, while Manning Rangers met AmaZulu. Cape Town City gets to host Sundowns on this occasion.

15 – This is the 15th time that the PSL top-flight season will begin on a Friday, the most common weekday to kick off the league.

In its best attempt to predict the future of the project, the Cape derby ended 0-0. Spurs homeboy Manny Rodrigues won the honour of getting the first ever red card in the PSL era. And as if that was not enough, he’d also get a red in the return leg against Hellenic in February of the following year, becoming the first PSL player to receive two red cards in the same season against the same opponent. A better predictor of the future, however, was some of the names in the Starting XIs on that day in 1996. AmaZulu were coached by Mike Makaab, Clinton Larsen & Dan Malesela played for Rangers, while Andre Arendse & Craig Rosslee played for Spurs.

What better way to announce the glamour of the latest league season than a clash between the teams that finished 1st and 2nd last season. Both sides actually start well on opening day. City have never lost a league game on an opening day, winning three and drawing three since 2016/17, while Sundowns remain one of the best, especially on Match Day 1.

14 – Sundowns are unbeaten in 14 opening day matches, keeping 11 clean sheets in those 14 games (W9 D5 since 2008).

Not only is it the longest ongoing run in the top-flight, but it’s also the longest unbeaten MD1 run of all time. Wits are next best on 9 (a run that ended in 2012). In fact, Dillon Sheppard was still a Sundowns player the last time they lost a season opening game. The defending champions will be looking to start well en route to adding a sixth title. It’s a rare thing for defending champs to lose on MD1, except there could be a twist here:

1 – The last team to beat a defending champion on opening day was Cape Town City beating Wits in August 2017.

Who Else Does Well On MD1?

Seven Stars played one top-flight season before merging with Cape Town Spurs to form Ajax Cape Town in the late 90s. Gavin Hunt was in charge of their only opening day game, a 1-0 win over his future employers Moroka Swallows. That means Stars remain the only team with a 100% win record on Matchday 1. Among teams to have played more than one season in the PSL, Kaizer Chiefs have the best win ratio in their opening match of the season, winning 15 of their 26 such matches. Indeed, Chiefs boast the most wins on opening day (15), although their recent record has been iffy, something that may have to do with the fixture computer. For the 10th time in 11 seasons, Chiefs start off away from home. This worked in 2011/12 (beating AmaZulu 6-0 away), but it hasn’t worked of late.

1 – Chiefs have won just one of their last seven season opening games, drawing four and losing the other two.

Their neighbours don’t have the same problems. For the sixth time in seven seasons, Pirates play their first Premier League match of the season on home soil. They host Swallows FC and Coach Riveiro will be happy to see their opening day record.

6 – Pirates are unbeaten in six opening matches (W3 D3 since 2016), their longest such run in the  PSL.

Richards Bay take the short left to Lamontville Golden Arrows, looking to become the first newly promoted side to win their season opening game since 2018/19 Black Leopards. Of the 43 previous new sides, only 8 have come out of their baptism of fire with all three points

What About The Worst Sides, Jabu?

Between 1998/99 and 2005/06, Dynamos spent five seasons in the top-flight, and never won a single match on opening day (D2 L3). This is the most matches a side has played on opening day without a win. Tuks and African Wanderers failed to win all four of theirs, while of the current teams, Stellenbosch are winless in three.

4 – Among current #DSTVPrem sides, Maritzburg are on the longest winless run in their opening matches of the season (P4 W0 D0 L4), last winning in this fixture in 2016.

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