It’s one year this week since Mamelodi Sundowns grabbed the PSL title out of Kaizer Chiefs’ hands in the famous bio-bubble smash and grab.
Chiefs had spent 379 days at the top of the league table, only to be pipped to the title by Sundowns in the last 30 minutes. A few months later, they enacted their own form of revenge, beating Downs 2-1 in a league encounter – a defeat that ended the champions’ hopes of a first ever Invincible PSL season.
More recently Downs knocked Chiefs out of the MTN8 via penalties, in what was a milestone game.
100 – The MTN8 clash between Chiefs and Sundowns was the 100th game between the
sides since the National Soccer League was formed in 1985. Chiefs have Won 41,
Sundowns 29 with 30 matches ending in a draw.
While Chiefs have the slight edge historically, the seesaw nature of the most recent ties is symbolic of the power wrangling that is continually at play. Losing out on “Invincibility” may not have hurt as much as losing a title on the last day.
However, it is fair to assume the
“What if?” question has been the source of some midnight thoughts for the almost-invincible trio of coaches. It is one of the reasons the rivalry has taken new levels of animosity in recent years.
2019/20 was the closest a team has come to pushing a title winning Sundowns in PSL
history. It was reminiscent of the 1998/99 season when both teams ended the season with 75 points, only for Sundowns to win the title by goal difference.
75 – Kaizer Chiefs won 75 points in 1998/99, the joint-highest number of points won by a
team in a PSL top-flight season. It remains the highest number of points won by a team that failed to win the title.
It is these near moments that are figurative of the battle that has engulfed the sides for over three decades. Yet, even in the PSL era, Sundowns have lost more league matches against Kaizer Chiefs than versus any other opponent (21). The record is echoed when Sundowns are hosts:
10 – Sundowns have lost more HOME league matches against Chiefs than any other
opponent in the PSL era (10). A supporter that joined Sundowns five years ago would find this hard to believe because Downs have enjoyed a run of four successive titles.
They have lost just five home matches
in the last three seasons, but two of those defeats came when Chiefs were the visitors.
Two seasons ago, Chiefs travelled to Downs as pacesetters in the early title race, leading by two points. They came out with a 2-0 statement win, stretching their lead at the top of the table to five points.
“We don’t have to beat Chiefs to win the league…” – were the famous words uttered by then Downs mentor, Pitso Mosimane. A season later, Chiefs travelled to Downs looking to stop their 22-game unbeaten run. Once again, they came out victorious (2-1), ending the Brazilians’ hopes of an invincible season.
Another win away to Sundowns this weekend would set a new tone for Stuart Baxter’s new spell. Those that are so far unimpressed by his appointment may start to sing a new tune.
Royal AM v Chippa
Royal AM will host Chippa on Sunday looking for their first win of the campaign. Of the 402 different sides that have been in the PSL top-flight, only 18 have lost all three of their opening league games.
3 – The last PSL team to lose all three opening games was Platinum Stars in 2017/18. They were relegated that season.
By Opta Jabu