PART 3: PSL 2019-20 season review (Teams H – P)

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We continue our review of the season by sharing statistics on Highlands Park, Maritzburg United, Orlando Pirates and relegated Polokwane City.

Highlands Park

Top scorer: Peter Shalulile (16 goals) – Golden Boot winner

Biggest win: 2-0 v Polokwane, Arrows, Chippa & Celtic (all Home)

Biggest defeat: 1-4 v Stellenbosch (H)

Points swing from previous season: -2

Position swing from last season: -2

Longest run without defeat: 6 matches (August – September 2020)

Longest run without a win: 7 matches (February to March, and August 2020)

Despite rumors of an impending sale, Highlands Park are slowly establishing themselves as a regular mid-table top-flight side. After surviving just one season before relegation in 2016-17, the Lions of the North have now enjoyed successive Top-10 finishes in the league, including a cup final appearance. Since their second promotion, they have finished 7th and 9th, and only missed out on a second successive Top-8 finish by goal difference this season. It would be another sad end should anything happen to their top-flight status, and what was a promising team – although one that is still to score more than two goals in a league match.

They’re no longer part of the relegation talk at the start of the season, nor are they spoken as title contenders – signs of a true mid-table side. Further evidence of their mid-table status can be seen in their results against teams finishing in the Top 4 and Bottom 4 in the league.

0 – Highlands Park are one of only two sides that did not win a match against a side finishing in the Top 4 (Lost 5 Drew 3).

0 – Highlands Park are also one of only two sides that did not lose a match against a side finishing in the Bottom 4 (Won 5 Drew 3).

Maritzburg United

Top scorer: Thabiso Kutumela (6 goals)

Biggest win: 3-0 v Stellenbosch (H)

Biggest defeat: 1-3 v Celtic (A)

Points swing from previous season: +15 (2nd best)

Position swing from last season: 8 (1st)

Longest run without defeat: 7 matches (December 2019 – January 2020)

Longest run without a win: 6 matches (August – September 2020)

Maritzburg are one of only two sides who managed a double-digit increase in points from the previous season. Like Chiefs, this must be in the context that both sides massively underperformed in 2018-19 season. Following a steady first half of the season (Maritzburg were 8th at the end of 2019), 2020 started well for Maritzburg. They won the most games, scored the most goals and collected the most points in the period between New Year and the beginning of lockdown – winning both Player & Coach of the Month awards for February/March. The Team of Choice were 1 point off the CAF positions before the break, but finished the season 10 points off third and only three above the team in 9th.

Again, just like Chiefs, their problems started in the bio-bubble, where they failed to win even one game. A side that had come into the bubble with the most clean sheets (12) and the second best defence (conceded only 17) managed to keep only one clean sheet in the bubble. No Friday nights at Harry Gwala. No party.

10 – Maritzburg were one of only three sides to concede 10+ goals in the bio-bubble, same as Chiefs (10) while only relegated Polokwane City (12) conceded more.

Orlando Pirates

Top scorer: Gabadinho Mhango (16 goals) – Golden Boot winner

Biggest win: 4-1 v Polokwane (A)

Biggest defeat: 0-3 v Supersport (A)

Points swing from previous season: -5

Position swing from last season: -1

Longest run without defeat: 10 matches, longest of all teams (November 2019 – February 2020)

Longest run without a win: 6 matches (February to March, and August 2020)

The Pirates ship has navigated two types of waters this season. The stormy seas came first under Micho Sredojevic & Rulani Mokwena in 2019, before Josef Zinnbauer was called in to ‘steady the ship’. The German took charge of his first game in December 2019, and led the Buccaneers on a record breaking run. In the process, they equalled the best ever Pirates run for successive wins (6), set a new unbeaten record at home (23), and threatened to crash what was long billed as a two horse race – eventual champions Sundowns and Chiefs. However, a six game run with just one goal removed any of those hopes. Pirates finished just 7 points off the top, and also just 5 points behind Chiefs, having trailed Chiefs by 17 points before Zinnbauer’s first game.

1 – Since Zinnbauer’s first game, Pirates won 35 points in the league, more than any other side. No opponent has scored more than once past Pirates in any league game under Zinnbauer.

Polokwane City

Top scorer: Charlton Mashumba (7 goals)

Biggest win: 3-1 v Supersport (H)

Biggest defeat: 1-4 v Pirates (H)

Points swing from previous season: -2

Position swing from last season: -1

Longest run without defeat: 3 matches (September 2019)

Longest run without a win: 9 matches (September – December 2019)

Polokwane City finished the 2018-19 season in 5th position, but went on to finish 2019-20 in 16th. This is the biggest fall to automatic relegation in one season since Wits were relegated in 2004-05, having finished 4th the season before. To make matters worse, Polokwane led the league table for 3 days at some point, and looked to be building on from their 5th position last season. They even beat Kaizer Chiefs early on, when no-one seemed to have an answer against Amakhosi. In hindsight, their demise comes as no surprise:

9 – City lost 9 in a row between September & December, the joint-worst run by any PSL side in the 30-game era (Black Aces also lost 9 in a row in 2010-11). Both sides got relegated.

1 – City became the first team to lead the table and get relegated since 2014-15, when Moroka Swallows suffered the same fate.

RELATED STORY: PSL STATS: Season Review Part 2 (C-G)

By Opta Jabu 

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