There is a feeling that Cape Town City should be the side that is challenging Mamelodi Sundowns for the title the way Swallows FC are doing.
Five years into the top-flight, the Cape project has enjoyed many ups and downs, including two Cup victories in 2016 and 2018. But, in a Sundowns-dominated period of time, the title still eludes. Thing is, there was a one season gap between Moroka Swallows’ relegation in 2014/15 and City’s formation in 2016/17. A change of guard. Maybe?
3 – Moroka Swallows were one of only three clubs that have finished as runners-up in a PSL league season, but have never won the title (also Ajax Cape Town & Platinum Stars).
In the absence of these previous title challengers – Moroka Swallows (relegated 2015), Ajax Cape Town (relegated 2018) and Platinum Stars (relegated 2018) – Cape Town City were well positioned to be to be the next big club. They missed out on the title by just five points in their first season, which could have been a sign of things to come. Instead, they have slowly drifted away since.
In that time, Swallows were out in the wilderness, absent from dining with the big boys in the highest division in the land. The closest they could come to the action was watching through the window. When football resumed in the bio-bubble last August, it was Ajax Cape Town that looked like the next returnee. But even they failed at the last hurdle, and Swallows made the most of the opportunity.
Now they’ve joined the party, and their half-season message is that they are not just content with being inside. Brandon Truter’s men are not just making up the numbers.
0 – Swallows FC are the first newly promoted side to remain unbeaten at the halfway stage of their first season in the top-flight. The previous longest a new side had gone without defeat in their first top-flight season was 7 games. They’ve doubled that.
City now get their chance to host Swallows FC this weekend, looking to avenge the 3-2 defeat from the first leg. There are some chinks starting to appear in the Swallows armor – four draws in a row is the longest run of successive draws by any team in the league this season. City will know that Swallows also failed to score in the last draw against AmaZulu (only the 2nd time they have failed to score this season), and may follow a similar template to his predecessor Benni McCarthy (now at AmaZulu). But a quick glance at their own defensive record will make the Dutchman worry a bit.
City have conceded more goals in the league this season than any other side (25). Ironically, they have also scored more than any other side (27).
Despite a 4-0 victory in the Nedbank Cup against Celtic, City have gone on to lose their last two league games. Only once in their history have they gone on a longer run of successive league losses (4 under Benni McCarthy in February 2018). Roses are red, violets are blue, but Cape Town seems to struggle at this time of the year. Ok, that doesn’t really rhyme but the point is this:
1 – City have won just one of the last 10 league games they have played in the month of February, losing all the other nine.
They need to win on Sunday because the stakes are higher.
Should Swallows FC win, they will secure their first top-flight double since their promotion. As a matter of fact, Swallows would only be the second side to complete a league double over City since City became a PSL side (Chiefs the other, doing it twice).
The message is not just that Swallows are back. But they are back to challenge where teams like City have failed.
TTM v Stellenbosch
6 – Stellenbosch have failed to win any of their last six games in the league, the longest current winless run of all PSL teams. They have failed to win in seven (all competitions), their joint-longest run without a win since their promotion in 2019.
By Opta Jabu