On 13 December 2019, when Kaizer Chiefs came from behind to beat Bloemfontein Celtic 5-3, they cemented their place as title contenders for this season.
It was Amakhosi’s eighth win in a row, their joint longest run in a single season in the PSL era. The win left them 10 points clear at the top at the end of that day and they became the first PSL side in the 30-game era to win 34 points from the opening 39 available (13 games).
Although they drew their next game (1-1 vs Maritzburg), the 35 points they had won was enough to leave them top of the table at Christmas. To put their dominance in perspective, 35 points (in just 14 games) is more than the total points won by 100 previous PSL sides over a full season.
Chiefs’s dominance was further emphasised by their goal difference at the time, which was +18, the best in the league. They were the only side with a double digit goal difference and some wondered if they would end the season as one of the most assertive PSL champions.
How do we measure dominance?
There are many ways to measure how dominant a team is throughout a league season – points, trophies & records. As such, the Man United Treble winners, Arsenal Invincibles and Man City Centurions will forever be legendary teams, teams that won their titles and did so convincingly. Maybe Liverpool 2019/20 too? Locally, the 71 points Sundowns team from 2015/16 is well-known among the soccer faithful as a side that bulldozed the league.
2.71 – Sundowns (15/16) hold the record as the side with the highest points-per-game ratio over a full PSL league season (2.71).
71 – The 71 points won by Sundowns (in just 30 games) in 2015/16 is the highest total for a side in the 30-game PSL era, and the 5th highest total for a side in the PSL overall (including 34 games seasons).
There have been no Invincibles in local football, although Kaizer Chiefs (04/05) hold the record for fewest losses by a PSL side in a full league season. Oddly, Kaizer Chiefs (98/99) also hold the record for the team with the highest points total but yet failed to win the title, losing out on goal difference to the Sundowns side. We dug into the history books to see the most dominant teams in the PSL era, using two measurements – points and goal difference.
Sundowns dominate the dominant champions.
By plotting goal difference against points totals, we get even better evidence of what we suspected, as three Sundowns sides stand out. The 98/99 Sundowns side coached by Ted Dumitru & led by Daniel Mudau and Roger Feutmba remain the most dominant side by this metric, with a goal difference of +44 and a 75-point total. The core of that squad continued in the same form the following season, another 75 points led by Paul Dolezar, ensured Downs had won 150 points in two seasons. More recently, Pitso’s record breakers remain the best points per game champions (2.71ppg) and also hold the record for the biggest gap between first and second in the league.
14 – The 2015/16 Sundowns side hold the record for the biggest gap between first and second in a full PSL season (14 points). Only 4 champions in PSL history have finished the season with a double-digit points gap between first and second.
The inaugural PSL champions Manning Rangers (with 74 points) are also a notable mention as one of the most dominant sides, as they won their title with 74 points, at a 5th highest 2.18 points per game.
SuperSport United dominate the non-dominant champions.
SuperSport’s three successive titles in the mid-noughties were a welcome relief to a League that was traditionally dominated by Sundowns, Chiefs and Pirates. Gavin Hunt’s troops deserved all their titles, but they hold the record for the lowest (54) and second lowest (55) winning points totals by a PSL champion. All three of their championships feature on the lower end of the dominance chart above (the 3rd side hidden behind Sundowns (2005/06). Perhaps that tells the story of the entire League, not just about Supersport’s dominance. They are also one of three sides with this record:
3 – Three sides have won the league by goal difference alone, having finished level on points with the 2nd placed side (Sundowns 98/99, SuperSport 08/09 and Pirates 2010/11).
Things have normalised a bit since the heady days of December for 2019/20 Chiefs. They have dropped 11 points in 2020, allowing their rivals to reign them in, before the league was suspended. Perhaps, they will benefit the most from the break, and return to dominate the last few games remaining in the league.
By Opta Jabu