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PSL Half-term Report: Part 4 Of 4

The PSL reached its halfway mark this past weekend, as the 120th game was played on Saturday.


The PSL reached its halfway mark this past weekend, as the 120th game was played on Saturday. With the Africa Cup of Nations approaching, teams will have an elongated break before they are next in action in domestic competition. We’ve crunched some numbers on the season so far, to bring you a half-term report for each team in a four-part series in alphabetical order. Part 4 features Sundowns, SuperSport, Swallows & TS Galaxy. Enjoy.

Mamelodi Sundowns

Position: 1st

Top scorer in all comps: Lucas Ribeiro (10 goals)

Sundowns are top of the table as it stands and seemingly have a firm grip on yet another title (Surprise, surprise!!). Projecting by the historical average for points won by champions, Downs only needs 26 points in the final 17 games to end as top dogs once again. That’s a record of W8 D2 L7 or W7 D5 L5 or anything similar to close the race off. How did we get here? Well, starting the season with 11 consecutive victories had a big hand in that. No team has ever done that in PSL history. Also, the inconsistency of the competition helps – no other team has gone more than 7 games without a defeat, while only two (City and Stellies) have managed more than 3 wins in a row at any point. The African Super League triumph was proof of a team that is levels above the rest, but some defeats in Cup competitions will offer a smidgen of hope. Lucas Ribeiro has started like a house on fire, and Peter Shalulile is on his way to becoming the greatest scorer in South African football. As often in football, the attack makes most of the headlines, but their defence deserves great credit too. But it’s the defence that teams should be worried about:

3 – Sundowns have conceded 3 goals in the 13 league games this season. Only 2003/4 Kaizer Chiefs (2 goals in 13 games) have conceded fewer at this stage.

Season Rating: 9/10

SuperSport United

Position: 3rd

Top scorer in all comps: Bradley Grobler (8 goals) 

Although they are level on points with Cape Town City in second place, SuperSport will be slightly disappointed with how their season has gone. This is true, especially in Cup competitions where they were knocked out in the 1st round in the MTN8 and the Carling Cup. They are also joint bottom of their CAF Confederations Cup group and must win their next game to even stand a chance of progressing. Neighbours Sundowns are unrelenting in the league, so Cup competitions offered the best route for short-term glory. The five-game losing run in November and December was a new nadir for the club – this was the first time they ever lost five games in a row. But it seems to have elicited a response, with three straight wins coming immediately after that, the first time that has happened this season. One thing that will please Gavin Hunt is the character that his team has shown:

15 – SuperSport United have won 15 points after falling behind in the league this season, more than any other side.

Season rating 6.5/10

Swallows FC

Position: 11th

Top scorer in all comps: Tshegofatso Mabaso (6 goals) 

It seems so long ago that pre-season optimism flooded the Swallows camp following some big-name signings. The likes of Andile Jali and Gabadiho Mhango arrived to much fanfare after coach Steve Komphela’s arrival had also brought a surge of anticipation. They were not flying at any points (excuse the pun), but 18 points from 10 games before the international break was an acceptable start. That was enough for 5th spot on the table at the time. Since then, Swallows have managed just one point from a possible 12. If that is not a sign that they are going backward, one goal in 450 minutes should be. Yet, as news has come to light in recent weeks, other issues at play may be affecting the team. A lot needs to change (both on and off the field) to cause a positive impact on Swallow results in the second half of the campaign. On the field, goals are an obvious issue:

5 – Only five players have scored for Swallows this season, the fewest scorers for any team in the league.

Season rating 4.5/10

TS Galaxy

Position: 8th

Top scorer in all comps: Samir Nurkovic (5 goals)

They were just a penalty shootout away from lifting another major trophy, but TS Galaxy have responded to that heartbreak with back-to-back league victories. Coach Sead Ramovic is now a familiar face on these shores – only Steve Barker and Eric Tinkler have been in their positions for longer at any club. Besides the deep cup run, some big victories this season are notable highlights. In particular, knocking Sundowns out of the Cup and beating Kaizer Chiefs early in the season stand out. January may be a good time to do some work on a squad that has been pushed to the limit on occasions. The Rockets have used just 24 players in the league this season, the fewest of all sides. Among those, Pogiso Sanoka, Mpho Mvelase, and Hugo Vidal have stood out. Up front, we’ve also been treated to some good goals.

4 – Samir Nurkovic has scored four goals in the league this season, with all of them coming as a sub. No player has scored more goals from the bench than him.

Season rating 5/10

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