We’ve been reviewing the recently ended DStv Premiership season with a series of four articles since Tuesday, featuring a few stats on each top-flight team (both ordinary and extraordinary).
Our final article in the 2020/21 alphabetical review shines the spotlight on teams S to T, featuring SuperSport United and three sides that were new to the top division – Swallows FC, TS Galaxy, and Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM).
Top scorer in all competitions: Bradley Grobler (17).
Fifth last season. Fifth this season. Supersport spent large parts of the campaign looking every bit like the most likely challenger to Mamelodi Sundowns hegemony.
In fact, when the two sides met on 16 January, just 10 games into the season, Matsatsantsa were in 2nd position behind the eventual champions.
A win would have taken them into first place, but the derby ended in a dour 0-0 draw (the only match of the season in which Kaitano Tembo used all 5 subs). That goalless draw would prove to be a poisoned chalice. From there, their title challenge faded into obscurity, and Supersport’s form since mid-January has resembled a relegation fight, more than a title challenger.
4 – SuperSport won just four of their last 20 games of the season, their fewest in that period of the season in 24 years, since winning 3 of the last 20 games in 1996/97.
To put this form in context, even Kaizer Chiefs (23) won more points than Supersport (22) since that 0-0 draw. Four days before that, Supersport were celebrating Bradley Grobler breaking the all-time Supersport record. The striker’s form this season has been the main highlight. He went on to lift the Golden Boot at the end of the campaign – a first for the club, and their only silverware of the season.
2 – Grobler (alongside Shalulile) is the first player to score 10+ league goals in successive seasons since Bernard Parker in 2012/13 and 2013/14.
Top Scorer: Ruzaigh Gamaldien (11 goals).
Newly promoted Swallows FC were the unlikely side that attempted a title challenge for a while. Like SuperSport above, Swallows met Sundowns on 23 January, in 2nd spot, only separated from Sundowns by an inferior goal difference.
A win would have sent them top, and maybe created doubts in a Sundowns side that was still unbeaten at the time. Musa Nyatama’s 97th-minute equaliser ensured a point was won on the day, but that signalled the end of their Leicester dream.
1 – Swallows won just one of their last 18 games between 23 January and the end of the season, the fewest of all sides.
Yet, they also lost just twice in the same period (only Sundowns with 1 loss had fewer), meaning the majority of their matches ended in a famous draw. They equalled the draw record on the 12th of May (17 draws) and would extend it to 20 by the end of the season. While the draws threaten to be the story of their season, it’s worth remembering that this was still a newly promoted side.
They became the first PSL side to go through an entire season without losing at home immediately after promotion (P15 W5 D10 L0), and only the seventh PSL side overall to complete a campaign without a home loss. ‘The Birds’ were just one goal away from becoming the first team in PSL history to score in every away game in a season, denied what looked like a legitimate penalty late in their final away game.
1 – In the 30-game PSL era (since 2002), only one newly-promoted side has won more points in their first season than the 44 points Swallows managed in 2020/21 (Free State Stars won 45 points in 2005/6).
Top Scorer: Mxolisi Macuphu, Lindokuhle Mbatha (5 goals each).
Unlike other new sides, it was not a classic first campaign for TS Galaxy. There was no league form that brought them close to challenging for the title, no real relegation battles to escape and no mazy Cup run that ended like a fairy tale.
Chasing a goal in the last minutes of the season to get into the final spot in the Top 8 epitomises their lukewarm season. In the end Chiefs pipped them to 8th, but it must be considered progress for a team that looked destined for relegation when Owen da Gama took over after 10 games was fighting for 8th right at the end.
When Da Gama came on board, The Rockets were in 14th – with the joint-fewest wins and joint-fewest goals in the division. In fact, their season can be separated into three – the awful first 10 games before Da Gama (W1 D5 L4 of 10), his awesome first 10 games (W5 D3 L2 of 10) and the average final 10 games once safety was effectively secured (W3 D1 L6).
If the league started when Da Gama joined, they’d be 5th on the table, behind only Sundowns, Pirates, AmaZulu and Arrows. Off they go on a well-deserved break, with this one thing as a suggestion for practice:
9 – No team received as many penalties as TS Galaxy this season (9). However, they failed to score six of their penalties, the most of all sides.
Top Scorer: Thabo Mnyamane, Alfred Ndengane (4 each).
With 26 letters, Tshakuma Tsha Madzivhandila is officially the longest name in PSL top-flight history. But even with that piece of history, nobody really expected them to add to it and challenge for the league title in their first season. If anything, many expected they would be relegated come May. So as far as expectations go, TTM had a decent season.
When you add the Nedbank Cup victory amidst off-field issues, it’s fair to say expectations were exceeded and TTM’s owners (whoever they may be now) will be quietly confident with how their first campaign has gone.
The club with the latest average time for making their first substitution (61st minute), may need more incentive to change things up earlier next season if they are to go for more goals. Only three sides in PSL history (328 different sides have been involved) have scored less goals than TTM managed all season.
19 – TTM scored 19 goals in the league all season, the fewest of all sides in the top two divisions of South African football.
RELATED STORY: STATS: DSTV Prem Season Review (Teams M & S)
By Opta Jabu