Part 3 of our Top8 History series brings us to the period 2008 to 2013. The 2008 change in sponsorship (SAA to MTN) also came with a change in structure.
No more once-off semi-finals. Teams would play home and away to book a place in the final. This change had an immediate effect. Counting regulation time goals scored, the four highest Top8 tournaments came in this time (28 goals in 2009 & 2012, and then 26 in 2008 and 25 in 2013). Only one year had less than 20 goals – 16 goals scored in 2010.
2008: DOWNS AIM FOR A DOUBLE
After winning their first Top 8 title in the PSL era in 2007, Sundowns came into the 2008 tournament looking for a repeat. They had reached every major final the previous season, but they had also just surrendered their league title to their neighbours SuperSport, finishing 4th – their lowest position since Patrice Motsepe’s takeover. Teams had figured out how to stop Mzansi’s version of The Galacticos, but they were still hard to knock out in cups. This is the only Sundowns squad that reached four successive cup finals in the PSL era.
They needed extra time both in the quarters (v Free State Stars) and in the semis (v SuperSport). But the final was one step too far, as they lost to Chiefs in a penalty shootout.
2009: A RECORD MATCH
Golden Arrows lifted their first domestic knockout title with the 2009 MTN8, their only domestic title to date. Abafana Besthende beat Ajax Cape Town in the most one-sided final of recent years. There were more goals scored in the 2009 MTN8 final (6), more than there were during normal time in the previous five finals (4).
6 – Arrows’ 6-0 victory over Ajax in the 2009 final is the biggest margin of victory for a PSL side in a domestic cup final.
2010: END OF A DROUGHT
By 2010, Orlando Pirates had now gone ten years without a domestic knockout trophy, and with less than ten minutes to go in the 2010 MTN8 semifinal 2nd leg against Chiefs, they were on their way out of yet another tournament. Katlego Mashego, coming off the bench, scored a late goal that sent Bucs through. Pirates would beat Swallows in the final via penalties and this title win would prove to be a turning point in Pirates’ recent history.
2011: DOUBLE TREBLE
Encouraged by their MTN8 win in 2010, Pirates went on to win the league and Nedbank Cup titles in 2010/11, becoming the first side to lift a domestic treble. In the two seasons between 2010 and 2012, Pirates reached the final in five of the six domestic cups, winning four of them. This included winning the 2011 MTN8, Telkom Knockout titles, and with the 2011/12 league title later, they had secured another treble. Pirates are the only PSL club to retain the Top8 trophy in the PSL era.
2012: SWALLOWS FLY HIGH
After losing out to Pirates just two years before, Swallows finally got their hands on the Top8. This was a Swallows side that had just finished 2nd in the league the season before. The 2012 MTN8 Cup was Swallows’ third major domestic Cup in the PSL era (1xAbsa Cup and 1x Nedbank Cup), but also their last.
28 – There were 28 regulation-time goals scored in the 2009 MTN8, the joint-most in a Top8 tournament in the PSL era (28 also in 2012).
2013: PIRATES COME CRASHING
Pirates couldn’t repeat their cup heroics in 2013, and lost to Platinum Stars in the 2013 final. Once again, penalties were needed to separate the finalists, but Pirates missed three in the shootout to hand Platinum Stars their first knockout trophy in the PSL era.
3 – Pirates’ three penalty misses in the shootout is the most by any team in a Top8 final.
By Opta Jabu