Things are about to get real in the top division of South Africa’s Premier Soccer League.
Kazier Chiefs, who looked like they were walking away with the title, slipped up over the weekend, losing 2-1 against SuperSport United. That means the gap between them and defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns is down to just three points with another round of fixtures to be played midweek.
United sit in third place on 27 points and lurking somewhat under the radar is wits. Not only do they have 26 points in the bag, but they have three games in hand, meaning they could mount a late charge for the title.
The PSL season just passed the midway mark over the weekend, with 123 matches out of 240 done and dusted.
What makes for interesting reading is how the PSL log compares currently to the same stage last season.
While it is tricky to compare the log exactly, because of rescheduled fixtures, this paints an interesting overall picture. At this point last season, Wits were top of the log after 16 fixtures with 33 points. Mamelodi Sundowns, who went on to win the title, were sitting in fourth spot – the same place Wits find themselves now – with 25 points.
And just like Wits do currently, last season’s champions had three games in hand at this point.
The graphic below shows how the teams’ points compare across the two season. Newly promoted Stellenbosch FC and Free State Stars, who were relegated last season, have been excluded from this graphic.
PSL Log: 2018-19 season after max 16 matches vs 2019-20
Notable, too, is the number of goals scored by the team that tops the log. Kaizer Chiefs have found the back of the net 30 times in 15 games. By this stage last season, Wits had scored just 24 times in 16 games. Goal scoring has long been a struggle in South Africa’s top flight, but there has been a slight increase this season.
In 123 fixtures in the 2019-20 season so far, there have been 268 goals. Last season, after 125 fixtures, there had been 254 goals. Long may it continue.
Antoinette is a recovering journalist, having written for Sports Illustrated, The Guardian, Daily Maverick and others. She has won multiple SAB Journalist of the Year awards, across a variety of categories. She thinks it’s strange writing about herself in the third person, unless she’s playing as herself in The Sims…which she’s been doing for over 20 years.