Chiefs' top start still in Downs' shadow


Kaizer Chiefs might be cruising to their best start ever to a PSL season, but they still fall short to Mamelodi Sundowns in certain respects.

Sundowns are still top in the ranks of the greatest take-off to a new season through the PSL era years dating back to 1996.

Just as good as Chiefs have been this term winning 11, drawing one and losing just once for a points haul of 34 points, it is not the 'cream' of starts.

That honour belongs to nine-time PSL champions Sundowns.

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In the 1999/00 season The Brazilians won 11 and drew two for a total of 35 points from their first 13 league matches of the season.

They went on to win a third league title in a row with a comfortable 11-point margin over second-placed Orlando Pirates.

Somewhat bizarre about that season was the fact that Peter Koutroulis was on the bench for the season-opening victory against Tembisa Classic, then Neil Tovey took charge for the next win against Bush Bucks, before Paul Dolezar was able to sit on the bench from the third game onwards after his work permit was sorted.

Dolezar had been with Chiefs prior to joining Sundowns.

That year Sundowns won 23 (plus six draws) out of the 34 games that were played when the league still had 18 teams.

Just like now the leading scorer by the time Sundowns had played eight games on November 24, 1999 had scored eight goals and it was Daniel Mudau.

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'Mambush' was sent off in the opener against Classic but being the menace that he was he was scoring for fun and would finish with 17 in the league – just one behind the late Dennis Lota.

Through that season Sundowns had quality everywhere with those that had double figures by way of game-time being Alain Amougou, Muisi Ajao, Alex 'Barnes' Bapela, Matthew Booth, Roger 'The General' Feutmba, Joas 'Hluphi' Magolego, Mike Manzini, Joel 'Fire' Masilela, Themba Mnguni, Lovers Mohlala, Charles Motlohi, Isaac Shai, Frank Schoeman, John Tlale and Mudau.

Marc Batchelor, Filemon Kanalelo, Dan Semake, Sibusiso Dlamini, Dan Malesela, Papi Mbele, Bennett Mnguni, Kenny Niemach, Eric Ramasike, Gavin Silango and Sbongakonke Ndlovu all got a run throughout that campaign.

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Before this season the best that Chiefs had managed was in the 2014/15 season when they won 10 and drew three from the opening 13 matches for a total of 33 points.
They only lost at game number 20 against SuperSport United.

The comfort that Chiefs have for now is that they will head into the new year guaranteed of top spot even though the 10-point cushion might be down to four if Sundowns win all three league matches they have to play before Christmas and Amakhosi fall to Maritzburg.

Sundowns will play Stellenbosch, Bidvest Wits and Polokwane City before Christmas which means nine points are available for the taking for the defending champions.

However, if Chiefs maintain this astonishing winning rate then they will not only win the league but also set a new title-winning record tally for a 16-team league.

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Habitual title winners Sundowns set the record of 71 points in the 2015/16 season after cruising to 22 wins and five draws.

Amakhosi could have over half of those 71 points before Christmas if they win against Maritzburg in the last match they must play before the festive season break.