‘We don’t lose derbies’ and other PSL talking points

Iqraam Rayners of Stellenbosch reacts after scoring the equaliser against Cape Town Spurs at Danie Craven Stadium. | BackpagePix

Iqraam Rayners of Stellenbosch reacts after scoring the equaliser against Cape Town Spurs at Danie Craven Stadium. | BackpagePix

Published Mar 12, 2024



Observations and takeaways from the weekend’s DStv Premiership matches point to a titanic battle for log positions at both ends of the log as the 16-team league winds its course on the finishing straight, writes Herman Gibbs.

Iqraam Rayners of Stellenbosch reacts after scoring the equaliser against Cape Town Spurs at Danie Craven Stadium. | BackpagePix

Crunch time as teams jostle for log positions

Stellenbosch’s mantra of ‘we don’t lose derbies’ has helped the club forge a winning culture when opposing cross-town rivals, but lowly Cape Town Spurs put an end to that streak.

Spurs held the strongly fancied Stellies to a draw in their Winelands backyard, which over time has become a fortress for coach Steve Barker’s ‘Maroons’. The eventual 1-1 stalemate meant that Spurs’ move away from the Premiership basement enjoyed a slight momentum shift, while Stellies’ bid to cement second place suffered a setback.

This highlights the jostling for log positions as the season winds down with 10 rounds of matches remaining.

Miguel Timm of Orlando Pirates celebrates victory in the Soweto derby. | BackpagePix

The Soweto derby remains SA’s biggest rivalry

Yet again, the importance of the Soweto derby has outweighed where Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs are on the log.

There was no pre-match top-of-the-table billing to add spice to the famed classic because the teams were in fifth (Pirates) and sixth (Chiefs) places on the standings before the kick-off at FNB stadium.

However, the log positions did not deter the crowd of 87,000 fans from attending the game. Many arrived late as the PSL, in their wisdom, saw it fit to delay the starting time. Failure to do so could have had tragic circumstances as was the case in the past.

There was a dramatic shift in the stadium because, for the first time, it seemed there were as many Pirates fans as there were for Chiefs. Pirates gaffer José Riveiro harped on that phenomenon after the match by saying that the multitude of white-and-black fans lifted his team significantly.

New coach Steve Komphela helped Golden Arrows end an 11-game losing streak this past weekend. | BackpagePix

Komphela hits the ground running at Arrows

Coach Steve Komphela hit the ground running at Golden Arrows on Sunday when he steered Abafana Bes’thende to a 1-0 win over Polokwane City at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium.

The outcome meant that Arrows ended a run of 11 successive defeats.

It was a fitting reward for the nomadic coach, who returned for a second spell at Arrows, after stints at Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroka Swallows. Following the acrimonious conclusion of his tenure as Swallows mentor, he was in the wilderness for a while until the call from Arrows.

Komphela’s arrival will likely arrest Arrows’ slide down the standings and ensure that the team will not have relegation battles on their hands at the end of the season.

Mamelodi Sundowns continue to look unstoppable this season. | BackpagePix

Record-breaking Sundowns continue their swagger

Mamelodi Sundowns remain on course to claim a record-extending seventh successive DStv Premiership title after their 2-0 victory over Chippa United at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium on Saturday evening.

Rather surprisingly, Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena admitted after the match that his team felt “nervous, shaky and not confident” in the run-up to the match against Chippa.

With this result, Sundowns stretched their unbeaten run in the Premiership to 41 matches. If they can keep it up to the end of the current season, they will not only achieve an ‘Invincibles’ campaign but also enter the top 20 for longest unbeaten streaks in global football leagues this century.

Eric Tinkler's Cape Town City have yet to taste victory this year in the Premiership. | BackpagePix

Citizens are still winless in 2024

Cape Town City’s rotten luck continued at the Harry Gwala Stadium, in Pietermaritzburg, on Sunday when they suffered back-to-back Premiership losses.

Hosts Royal AM moved to within one point of the top eight after defeating City 2-0.

More worryingly for coach Eric Tinkler is that his team are yet to pick up a win in 2024. Their last win in all competitions came when they beat Mother City rivals Cape Town Spurs on New Year’s eve.

Orlando Pirates, SuperSport United and cross-town rivals Stellenbosch FC will welcome this result because it gives them breathing space in the zone that will determine the teams to play in Africa next year.

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DStv PremiershipSoccer