When Bidvest Wits won the league title in May 2017, it was presumed to be the start of a new era for the PSL.
This was the first season in 20 years that none of Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs had won at least one domestic trophy. On the face of it, the door was open for another club to step up and challenge the four ever-present PSL sides, including SuperSport United.
With a league title just sewn up, Wits were seemingly first in line. The newest club in the PSL top-flight would have been further behind for consideration, had it not been for winning that season’s Telkom Knockout and finishing third in the league, just five points behind Wits.
“You have to be humble, because you don’t have enough of a foundation,” John Comitis said in an interview back then, highlighting that they were simply building for the future.
Fast forward four years and the picture is looking very different for the two sides. Wits are no longer a PSL side, while Cape Town City recently revealed a grand plan for a new stadium at their new state-of-the-art office facilities. With two Cup titles in the bag, there is enough of a foundation now.
But successfully building a foundation also calls for targets to be readjusted. Big plans demand a big return. City have won more cups than both Chiefs and Pirates since they arrived in the top-flight, but even that may not be enough return for the investments made in the squad and the club. They must push on to bigger things, namely a title challenge at least. Yes, the 4-2 win over Bloemfontein Celtic was another attacking masterclass for City, but it’s matches like the one against Pirates this Saturday that are the yardstick with which they can measure real progress.
The Citizens can send a statement if they manage to score goals against this Pirates side.
1 – Since Josef Zinnbauer’s first game in charge, only one side (Wits in the Nedbank Cup) has managed to score more than once in a match against Pirates (Played 25).
Although the history of this fixture is quite brief, the story between the two sides already has a few famous tales. From a 2-2 draw in 2019 that effectively denied Pirates the title to the six-goal thriller at the start of last season. There has also been a red card for City in each of the last two fixtures, including one in the recent MTN8 cup quarter-final win for Pirates.
0 – Never in their short history have Cape Town City lost a home match to Orlando Pirates, winning three times and drawing twice in all competitions since 2016.
This time, however, Cape Town City will be playing their home match in Stellenbosch (Danie Craven Stadium), but the advantage of less travel and familiar geographic conditions could still hold. Their home form has been stellar this year, and they have won more points already in 2020 than they did in 2018 (24) and 2019 (21), having played less games.
0 – No side has won more games (8) and more points (26) in home league matches than City since the start of 2020.
For Pirates, the Cape Town hoodoo refuses to go away like stale cigarette smoke. The Buccaneers have failed to win away to Cape opposition in seven attempts, last registering a coastal victory in September 2016. They’ve not kept a clean sheet in all seven, and scored in just one of the last five such games.
0 – Pirates are winless in seven matches away to Cape opposition (including one bio-bubble game), drawing two and losing the other five.
Golden Arrows v Swallows FC
Arrows host Swallows on Saturday afternoon – at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium – in search of a first win in four games. While Arrows remain undefeated, they have drawn three in a row, but need to clock up some wins to avoid sliding down the table.
Their opponents have won 11 points in their opening five games, which represents the best start to a top-flight season for a newly promoted side in PSL history. This impressive start is built on a strong defence, as Swallows FC are the only side in the top two South African divisions yet to concede an open-play goal since football resumed in the bio-bubble in August (only 2 penalties conceded in 11 games). That record may be tested this weekend.
8 – Golden Arrows have scored 8 goals in the league so far, with only Sundowns (12) scoring more than Arrows this season.
TTM v AmaZulu
Ninth-placed TTM hosts 10th place AmaZulu also on Saturday, at Thohoyandou Stadium. A second home win of the season would be a boost to TTM, who have won each of their last 5 home games (in two divisions) by a 1-0 scoreline. Their visitors have struggled on the road this year:
1 – AmaZulu have won just one out of nine away games in the league this year, drawing two and losing the other six.
Maritzburg United v Mamelodi Sundowns
Following the painful title loss to Sundowns at the end of last season & the subsequent Chiefs exit, Ernst Middendorp returns to the PSL touchlines, albeit with a different side. If you had asked him which fixture he would like to start his new stint with, this one would probably be further down the list.
11 – Since 2006/7, Ernst Middendorp has lost more matches to Sundowns than he has against any other South African team (11).
In fact, the majority of this Sundowns side does not know what defeat to Maritzburg looks like. Dennis Onyango, Hlompo Kekana and Tebogo Langerman are the only players who featured the last time Maritzburg beat Sundowns in the league (September 2012).
Since then, Downs have won eight and drawn seven of the 15 league games played between the sides.
1 – Sundowns have failed to score in just one of the last 15 games against Maritzburg since 2012.
By Opta Jabu