Like other teams aiming to dethrone Mamelodi Sundowns at the pinnacle of South African football, Supersport United and Cape Town City have both had fleeting moments of brilliance this season.
But like most ‘challengers’, there comes a period – usually a week or two – where results become so unsatisfactory, that the odds on Sundowns retaining the title get slashed even further. For Kaitano Tembo and Supersport, there is a looming sense that this could be the period.
Defeat in the Nedbank Cup to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) was swiftly followed by defeat on the road to Bloemfontein Celtic, and their next three fixtures read: Cape Town City (Away), Kaizer Chiefs (Away), and Orlando Pirates (Home).
In spite of these mixed recent results, and an immediate league fixture list that looks daunting, Tembo can count on one thing going – a good home record.
Indeed, ever since the former Zimbabwean international took the helm at the club about 3 years ago, only four teams have managed to beat Supersport in a home league game – Sundowns (twice), Highlands Park, Baroka & Saturday’s opponents Cape Town City. His good home record looks even better when you consider their current run:
13 – Supersport are unbeaten at home in 13 league matches (W8 D5, since January 2020), their longest run in their PSL history.
As a matter of fact, Supersport have lost just one home game in the league since the start of last season (v Sundowns). It’s a reminder that Sundowns will remain the biggest threat to any record that any team can boast.
Yet, if one could rank the next biggest threat to Matsatsantsa’s home record – Cape Town City would probably be second. Like Supersport, they’ll also be looking for a pick-me-up result following the dizzying midweek loss to Pirates, where the ‘Citizens’ were 2-0 down within 5 minutes, a first in their PSL history.
But they can take solace in that their weekend fixture is one where they rarely get bad results. Of teams with a full season of PSL action under their belts, only Bloemfontein Celtic (11%), have a lower win rate in the league against City than Supersport (12.5%) since they came into top-flight football (2016).
The record looks even better when you consider only the period under Kaitano Tembo.
1 – Cape Town City are the only club that Tembo has played both home & away, and failed to beat in his tenure at the club (P5 W0 D2 L3).
While Supersport’s home record is formidable, it’s important to note that they have drawn their last three home games (they have drawn 4 in a row at home in the same season only once before – 2004/05). That’s six points dropped at home, which would have left them top of the table at present.
That should be annoying. In fact, they have drawn as many home games in January 2021 as they managed throughout the entire 2020. If home draws prove to be a weakness that haunts their title ambitions, a weak defence is the equivalent Achilles heel for City.
23 – CT City have conceded 23 goals in just half a season. The most goals that a title-winning side has ever conceded in the 30-game era is 26.
Bradley Grobler & co. will be rubbing their hands in glee.
Celtic v Chippa
Celtic host Chippa on Saturday, also looking to build on their strong home record. Siwelele have lost just one of their last 16 home matches in the league (Won 9 Drew 6). They’ve also lost once to Chippa in seven visits.
2 – Chippa have scored just two goals at Celtic since they came into the top-flight in 2012, the fewest of all PSL sides that have visited Bloemfontein more than once.
Swallows v AmaZulu
Unbeaten Swallows host AmaZulu on Sunday, with the unique record that they are the only team yet to trail in a home game all season.
Be that as it may, their visitors on Sunday are AmaZulu, who seem to have found a second wind under Benni McCarthy.
‘Usuthu’ are on a three game-winning run, and are looking to equal a record that has stood for over a decade.
4 – The last time AmaZulu won four successive league games in the same season was back in 2008/09.
By Opta Jabu