The Year in Review, 2023: The highs and lows of the DStv Premiership

Mamelodi Sundowns look almost certain of repeating these scenes in 2024 by winning the DStv Premiership title. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky / BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns look almost certain of repeating these scenes in 2024 by winning the DStv Premiership title. Picture: Ryan Wilkisky / BackpagePix

Published Dec 26, 2023


The 2023/24 DStv Premiership campaign has reached the halfway stage having not disappointed, with blockbuster action including goals, shocking results and controversy.

The start of a new season will always include a sense of fresh possibilities, with many clubs harbouring hopes as well as expectations.

Here, SMISO MSOMI and MIHLALI BALEKA profile the year that was.



It comes as no surprise the current log leaders and defending DStv Premiership champions Sundowns have been the most magnificent side in the division so far.

The Brazilians are yet to drop a point in league action this season and therefore are on an unprecedented 11-game winning streak in the league.

Even more impressive is their eight-point lead over the closest chaser, having played three games less. Head coach Rulani Mokwena and his men continue to rip up the history books and are expected to seal a seventh consecutive league title.


A Stellenbosch side that lost huge names in the last transfer window has perhaps been the surprise package this campaign in domestic action.

Club head coach Steve Barker has managed to get his fairly youthful side playing at the top of their game on a more consistent basis, which has seen them leap into fourth on the log.

The Western Cape-based outfit ends the year on an all-time high after winning their first silverware with the 2023 Carling Knockout Cup, when they beat TS Galaxy 5-4 on penalties in the final.


Another Western Cape side, Cape Town City, has seemingly found a rich vein of form at just the right time to capitalise on mistakes made by teams at the top end of the log.

Head coach Eric Tinkler has needed to calm the heads of his men in the change room in recent weeks as a run of six successive wins pushes City into second place.

While chasing and catching Sundowns may seem an impossible task, a return to the CAF Champions League may be incentive enough for City to keep their fight going into the new year.


Following their last campaign, Matsatsantsa were pinpointed as one of the clubs expected to challenge the dominance of Sundowns this season, which now seems like a load too heavy to carry.

The club have struggled to balance both their continental commitments with domestic duties, but should be applauded for managing to retain a spot in the top three in the division.

The emergence of young defender Ime Okon and the consistency of 36-year-old Bradley Grobler has been the highlight of SuperSport’s season so far.



The KwaZulu-Natal side was among the clubs expected to struggle at the bottom end of the table this season, but shocked many when they held second spot for many weeks with breathtaking performances and results.

However, reality has set in and Abafana Bes’thende are now on a horrid six-game losing streak.

Despite their recent downfall, Arrows have shown enough to suggest they could bounce back and challenge for a potential CAF spot in the new year.


Ahead of the start of the campaign, The Buccaneers were touted as the side with enough squad depth, quality and heritage to possibly dethrone Sundowns.

However, that hasn’t quite materialised as inconsistent displays by some of the club’s biggest names, as well as off-field disruptions, have curtailed the Sea Robbers’ advances.

The Soweto giants have failed to build on lifting the MTN8 cup as they currently hold fifth spot on the log, which is neither accepted nor celebrated by the club’s supporters as well as its management.


From one Soweto giant to another, the Kaizer Chiefs story this season has seen a horror show unfold, with the club having already sacked the head coach after just three months into his tenure.

Many may have expected Amakhosi to be in a worse-off position ahead of the turn of year, having gone through a period where they’d won just one of eight matches in all competitions.

However, the Naturena-based club’s sixth spot is a true reflection of the potential bubbling under their failure to hit the required heights.


The picture and performances of the Dube Birds this season make it hard to remember that the club battled the chop for a huge chunk of last season before coach Musa Nyatama produced the rescue act.

They have not rested on their laurels and should be commended as a couple of high-profile signings as well as the capture of head coach Steve Komphela have rejuvenated the club.

While they haven’t pulled up trees in the first round, it would come as no shock if Swallows turned their “okay” start into something special in the next round.



Former coach Molefi Ntseki was an unpopular appointment for the job during pre-season, but a large chunk of the Amakhosi faithful still gave him the benefit of the doubt during the start of his term.

But instead of using that support as a motivation, he unleashed the wrath of the fans by performing below-par. He was fired four months into the job and replaced by Cavin Johnson in an interim role.


Pirates’ cup double and second-place finish in the league last season put mounting pressure on the club’s expectations this season, which included ending their long 11-year drought in the league.

But that hasn’t gone according to plan. They were blowing hot and cold in the league before they recently enjoyed a purple patch after winning four of the last five games.


Just like Pirates, Sekhukhune were expected to build on the top-seven finish and Nedbank Cup final run. But things didn’t go according to plan, leading to the sacking of coach Brandon Truter.

Truter’s replacement Lehlohonolo Seema has started well, with his first loss against AmaZulu after three games. He will know that his job is cut out for him given that they play in Africa as well.


Season in and season out, AmaZulu president Sandile Zungu has been candid about their aim to become a top-four team. But that was only achieved under Benni McCarthy three years back.

Current incumbent Pablo Franco arrived with a lot of hype – like many before him – but he’s blown hot and cold as well. He crashed out in the Carling Knockout semis and is 10th in the league.



Promoted back to the elite league after spending a lot of years in the wilderness, Spurs were tipped to return with vigour and hunger. Instead, they’ve been the whipping boys of 13 teams in 14 games so far.

The sacking of coach Shaun Bartlett, who’s since been replaced by his mentor Ernst Middendorp, hasn’t borne fruit either, the team is still stuck in the basement of the log with only three points.


Bay’s promotion to the top-flight last season seemed to be one for the books, the Natal Rich Boys finishing among the chasing pack in the first half of the season after an exceptional start.

But that proved to be a false start. They ended the season flirting with relegation. And since then they’ve never recovered, languishing in the play-off spot so far this season.


Rise and Shine’s start after their return to the elite league was also impressive. But following reports of mismanagement, the Polokwane-based side have undone all their good work in recent weeks.

Since the departure of coach Lehlohonolo Seema, Polokwane are winless in the last five games. And with their next games against Chippa United and Mamelodi Sundowns, that streak looks set to go on.


Since being handed a transfer ban by Fifa during pre-season, after their failure to compensate Samir Nurkovic, whose contract was terminated, Royal AM have never been the same.

Their over-reliance on youngsters and some seniors has haunted them. They are just lucky that coach John Maduka has player management skills or else they’d have long swapped places with Spurs.

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