The saying familiarity breeds contempt is worth noting at a point where Mamelodi Sundowns have established an exclusive club.
The ‘Brazilians’ are the first member in the We-won-four-successive-Premiership-titles club and the only member in the We-won-11-Premier Soccer League (PSL) – titles club.
When a team wins so many titles, and especially four in a row, it becomes easy to forget the heroics of each feat. If we take the last four title wins for example and put them on a table, the naked eye can’t distinguish one from the next because they all follow that flawless Sundowns winning formula.
The fact that there will be no “Invincible” season, or that the 71-point record is now beyond reach should not take away from the greatness of this team.
So, we dug through some numbers to bring you 10 things that this Sundowns side ought to be remembered by – beyond just lifting La Undecimo.
The Unbeaten Start
Having equalled Kaizer Chiefs’ 19 game unbeaten run from the start of a season with a 3-1 win over TTM at the beginning of April, the whispers on Invincibility had started. When 19 became 20 against Chippa, and then 20 became 21 against AmaZulu, the whispers became murmurs. But Chiefs stopped them in their tracks, with a surprise 2-1 comeback win at the end of April.
21 – Sundowns were unbeaten in their opening 21 games, setting a new record for the longest run a team has gone unbeaten from the start of a PSL season.
The Unbeaten Run Across all Competitions
After losing the first game of the post-Pitso Mosimane era in the MTN8 quarter-finals, Downs quickly refocused on other matters, going unbeaten for the next six months. From October 2020 to April 2021, no team managed to beat Sundowns, and as if that was not enough, they added a club record run of 10 successive wins between January and mid-March.
28 – Sundowns went unbeaten in 28 games in all competitions, their longest unbeaten run as a club across all competitions in the PSL era. Consistency.
The Away Record
Whether you subscribe to the view that champions are determined by their away form or not, you can’t ignore the fact that Sundowns’ away form has set them up well for success. In fact, they can still set a few more PSL records in the remaining two away games. If they win both, they’ll equal the record for most away wins in a 30-game season (11). If they don’t lose any, then they’ll be the first side to go ‘invincible’ away.
0 – No team has ever completed a full PSL season without an away defeat. Objective.
The Buffet of Scorers
Player of the Season nominee Peter Shalulile has been the main source for goals for Sundowns, with 11 so far in the league, 18 in all competitions, but he has not been alone.
Goals have come from all over the pitch, with five players scoring their first Sundowns goal this season – including Aubrey Modiba, who scored his first for the club just two days ago against his former team, SuperSport United.
16 – Sundowns have had 16 different goalscorers this season, more than any other side. Excluding own-goals, their most in a 30-game season is 17. Sharing.
The Fewest Losses
Sundowns have also lost just once in the league this season. No side in PSL history has gone unbeaten in a whole top-flight season, but the same is true that no side has lost once in a full season. Oddly, this is a record they could share with Swallows this season unless one of them wins this coming Saturday. There’ll be two more games for both after this weekend.
2 – Kaizer Chiefs lost two games in the 2004/5 season, the lowest total for a PSL top-flight side in a full season. Steely.
Sundowns are top scorers in the league, and also boast the defence that has kept the cleanest sheets, with just 14 goals conceded so far. Chiefs 2004/05 are the only team in PSL history to have conceded less than that in a full season (11). The current Sundowns team could break another club record if they don’t concede 3+ goals in their last three games – 17 is the fewest a Sundowns side has allowed in a full PSL season (2006/07).
16 – Sundowns are set to keep the most clean sheets this season (on 16 now). They need one more to equal the club record for a PSL season – 17 in 2006/07, 2015/16 & 2016/17. Tight.
The Clean Sheets
Denis Onyango was denied a 16th clean sheet of the season by SuperSport’s late goal from Teboho Mokoena, but the Ugandan has already secured the Golden Glove for the season. He has five more clean sheets than his nearest challengers with only three games to play. Onyango has also equalled the Sundowns record for clean sheets in a PSL season (15) – a record held by Calvin Marlin from the 2006/07 season.
17 – Onyango needs one clean sheet in Sundowns’ last three games to break the Sundowns PSL record, and two clean sheets to equal the PSL record (17) held by Moeneeb Josephs. Wall.
In addition to the Golden Glove, Onyango will be lifting his 14th trophy since he started playing football in the country. Alongside Hlompho Kekana, the two stalwarts have been regular winners in their careers at both SuperSport and Sundowns – mostly the latter.
15 – Only Daine Klate (15) has won more trophies than Onyango & Kekana (14) in the PSL era. Winners.
Themba Zwane’s goal versus SuperSport United (3-1 win) was enough to get him a 10th league goal of the season, and it could have been 11 had he buried the penalty attempt as well.
He is the 5th top-flight player to score 10+ this season, and the second from Sundowns after Peter Shalulile. The last time Sundowns had more than one player score 10+ in the same season was in 2015/16 (Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro). He’s on 45 for Downs in the league now, three behind Katlego Mphela (48), who was three behind Surprise Moriri (51), who was a whopping 33 behind Daniel Mudau (84).
2 – Zwane is the first player to score 10+ league goals in consecutive seasons for Sundowns since Katlego Mphela did this thrice between 2009/10 and 2011/12. Zwane is the first to score 10+ in successive seasons and also win successive league titles since Moriri in 2005/06 & 2006/07. Mshishi.
The Early Title Winners
Winning a title at the end of May may seem late, especially when you consider other major leagues have ended. But don’t let the Covid-delayed calendar mislead – Sundowns have been flying. The 21-game unbeaten start is a reminder of how dominant they have been, while other challengers fell short. It took AmaZulu’s best performance in PSL history to give us a bit of a title race:
27 – Sundowns became the earliest title winners since Chiefs in 2014/15, who also lifted the title in their 27th game. Partytime.
RELATED STORY: STATS: Sundowns break, equal & target PSL records
By Opta Jabu