At the end of the 2001/02 season, the PSL top-flight league was cut down to 16 teams from 18, meaning that clubs played 30 matches instead of 34 in a season.
Like the first six years, the next 6 years saw four different league winners. Kaizer Chiefs finally got their hands on a league title in 2004, successfully defending it the following season.
Sundowns also won successive titles after ‘The Glamour Boys’, with Pirates (2002/03) and SuperSport United (2007/08) sandwiching the Chiefs and Downs braces.
Orlando Pirates won the first 30-game season. Even though they scored just 41 goals all season, their strong defence marshalled by William Okpara, Papi Khomane and Mbulelo Mabizela held firm. Pirates conceded just 16 goals, the fewest Pirates have ever conceded in a full PSL campaign. On the other end of the field, Lesley Mayathela ensured the goals were guaranteed, as he scored 18 goals on his way to winning the Golden Boot.
10 – Sundowns ended the season in 10th place, their joint-lowest finishing position in the PSL era. Indeed, the 13 losses they suffered that season remains a record worst for them.
Having finished second in four of the first five seasons, Chiefs finally won their first title in 2004. Like Pirates before, they were goal shy that season. Perhaps coach Ted Dumitru’s focus was on fixing a leaky defence, that had conceded 26 goals the season before – a record worst total in a full season for Chiefs at the time. If that was the case it worked.
11 – Chiefs conceded just 11 goals in the 2003/04 season, the fewest of any league side in PSL history.
39 – The 39 goals Amakhosi scored in 2003/04 is the lowest ever goal tally for a title-winning side since the PSL was established in 1996.
This was also a memorable season for Ajax Cape Town who finished 2nd, their joint highest finish in the PSL, and Black Leopards whose 8th position also remains a joint personal best.
Chiefs continued where they left off the following season, led by The Master, Ted Dumitru. In winning the 2004/05 title, Dumitru became the first coach to win 4 PSL championships, a record that has not been broken since (only matched by the likes of Gordon Igesund, Gavin Hunt and Pitso Mosimane). For Amakhosi, the title win meant they were only the second PSL side to win back-to-back titles.
The defence was as resolute as the season before. They conceded more goals (26), but were still the best defence in the league, losing two games – the fewest of any PSL side in history. Where they were goal shy in 2003/04, this all changed in 2004/5, thanks mainly to one man:
25 – Collins Mbesuma scored a PSL record 25 goals in 2004/05, winning the Golden Boot. He remains the record holder for most goals scored by a player in a PSL league campaign.
1.83 – That 2004/05 Chiefs side averaged 1.83 goals per game in the league (55 in 30), the joint-highest goals per game ratio of any top-flight side in a 30-game PSL season.
Although Chiefs set a record for unbeaten matches in 2005/6 (31 matches starting the previous season), their quest for a 3rd successive title ran out of steam following a loss to Sundowns in February 2006. They ended the season with just one win in their last 5 games.
Meanwhile, Sundowns returned to the summit of the league, winning the title by 3 points thanks to a late run of form that saw them lose one of their last eight league games.
Sundowns retained the title in 2006/07 in more comfortable settings, cruising to a 10-point triumph over nearest rivals Pirates. A run of 11 wins in a row between January and April – the best PSL record – set The Brazilians on course for Title Number 5. In the PSL era, no side has won more than 4.
4 – Gordon Igesund led Downs to the 2006/07 championship, joining Ted Dumitru on what is still a PSL record 4 league titles. Igesund remains the only PSL coach that has won the title with more than two different clubs (4).
10 – There was a 10 point gap between Sundowns in 1st and Pirates in 2nd at the end of the season. A double-digit gap between 1st and 2nd at the end of a season has only happened 4 times in PSL history.
A new champion was crowned in 2007/08, as SuperSport became the 6th different side to win the PSL title. They won that championship with just 54 points, a record lowest for a title winner. It marked the arrival of a new coaching giant at the scene, as Gavin Hunt got a first winners medal, following impressive work at Moroka Swallows in prior seasons.
0 – Sundowns (4th), Chiefs (6th) and Pirates (8th) were not in the Top 3 at the end of the 2007/08 season, the first time and last time that all three finished outside the Top 3.
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By Opta Jabu