The last edition of our Premier Soccer League (PSL) history sees FARPost and Opta Jabu focus on the most recent PSL stage, 2014 to 2020, another period of Sundowns ascendancy.
Led by Pitso Mosimane, the Brazilians have won three of the last five PSL titles, and have not finished outside the Top 2.
This last six year-period has also mirrored the first six-year period in this: a one-time league winner Bidvest Wits (like Santos & Manning Rangers before).
After losing out narrowly on the league title the season before, Kaizer Chiefs returned strongly in 2014/15, winning the league at a canter. They won their opening 8 games, conceding just 2 goals, and went on a 19-match unbeaten run at the start of the season (W14 D5), the longest unbeaten run by any team from the start of a PSL league season.
69 & 21 – The 69 points and 21 wins at the end of that season both set new records at the time for a 30-game PSL season.
The league title would later prove to be the ‘Glamour Boys’ last trophy in a while. It was also the end of an era for Moroka Swallows, who were relegated in May 2015.
Sundowns had suffered their heaviest PSL defeat in 2014/15, losing 5-0 to Celtic in April 2015. This was one of the lowest points in Sundowns history. They licked those wounds and returned the following season with probably the most dominant campaign by a club in the PSL.
71 – Sundowns won 71 points in the 2015/16 season, the most by any team in a 30-game top-flight season. Their 22 wins also stands out as a record in this era (D5 L3).
Their 2.37 points per game is the highest to date, even including teams that played 34 games, while the 1.83 goals per game remains a joint highest (Chiefs 2004/5).
In addition to a record points total, they also won a continental treble, with the Telkom Knockout and later the 2016 CAF Champions League. In 2016, Sundowns were both South African and African champions.
Jomo Cosmos were relegated this season, for a 4th time, the highest number of relegation for a PSL side. Meanwhile, Collins Mbesuma won the Golden Boot, scoring 14 goals for Black Aces.
Wits were 2016/17 champions, their first league title as a club. Although this was a first title for The Clever Boys, they were led by a familiar face – Gavin Hunt lifting his 4th league title as a PSL coach. No coach has won more than 4 (Igesund & now Pitso Mosimane also have won 4).
One of the highlights of this season was a goal by Baroka FC goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke. The keeper scored a last minute overhead kick in November 2016 against Pirates to salvage a draw.
The goal made him a finalist for the Puskas award (annual FIFA award for best goal worldwide), the first African & first goalkeeper to make the final three. Sadly, he finished 2nd in the voting.
The Puskas-nominated goal was just a sign for how sorrowful the season was going for Pirates, who would later finish in 11th place, their worst finishing position in the PSL.
In fact, Pirates were so bad, they won just 6 games all season (D15 L9), only one more than relegated Highlands Park. The 33 points that season represents the only occasion they’ve finished a league campaign with less than 40 points.
Sundowns won an 8th league title in 2017/18, a season that was characterised by low scoring. There were just 490 goals scored in total throughout the 2017/18 league season, the lowest scoring campaign in PSL history.
Champions, Wits suffered the greatest fall for a defending champion, and spent a majority of the season fighting in the relegation places. They were bottom of the table at Christmas, but a 9-match unbeaten run between January and March saved them.
Another season, another Sundowns title. ‘Bafana Ba Style’ cemented their legacy as the dominant side in the PSL by winning the 2018/19 PSL championship, their ninth overall. Pitso Mosimane joined Gavin Hunt & Gordon Igesund by winning a record 4th league title, while Kaizer Chiefs experienced their worst ever season.
9 – Chiefs ended 2018/19 in 9th place, their joint lowest position in the PSL. Amakhosi were 9th also in 2006/07, under Ernst Middendorp as well. The 39 points they won lingers as the lowest ever for a Chiefs side in the PSL, and the first time they won less than 40 points.
The suspension of the 2019/20 season shouldn’t make us forget that this had one of the most interesting narratives of recent years. Chiefs were top of the table, looking to win a first piece of silverware since 2015.
Yet, by the turn of the year, a double-digit lead at the top had been cut down to just 4 points. Sundowns were hot on their heels, chasing La Decima (a 10th title), with Pitso Mosimane looking to be the first coach to 5 PSL titles.
Even the relegation battle was finely poised, with half the league yet to reach the magical 30-point mark. For now, we wait for the suspension to be lifted, and the beautiful game to return.
By Opta Jabu