African Cup Winners' Cup Orlando Pirates
|CAF Champions League Mamelodi Sundowns|
Matches played 306
|Champions Mamelodi Sundowns
1st PSL title
4th South African title|
Relegated Real Rovers African Wanderers
The 1997–98 Premier Soccer League, known as the 1997-98 Castle Premiership for sponsorship purposes, was the second season of the Premier Soccer League since its establishment in 1996. The season began on 1 August 1997 and ended on 13 May 1998. Mamelodi Sundowns won their first PSL title and their fourth South African title after previously winning the PSL's predecessor - the National Soccer League - on three occasions (1988, 1990 and 1993). This victory would be the first in a hat-trick of PSL titles for Sundowns, as the team from Pretoria would go on to dominate the league for the next two seasons.
As in the inaugural season, the league was contested by 18 teams, sixteen returning from the 1996-97 season and two newly promoted clubs; African Wanderers and Santos. The league would also continue to run parallel to the European football calendar (August - May) and not run concurrently with the African football calendar (January - December).
Club name changes
Eastern Cape club Umtata Bush Bucks decided to drop Umtata from their name from the 1997-98 season onwards and instead be referred to as Bush Bucks.
Manning Rangers found themselves unable to retain their title as they slipped to fifth place in the final standings, some 11 points behind eventual champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who won the first of what would be three successive PSL titles.
Kaizer Chiefs finished in the runners-up spot for the second successive season after finishing five points behind the brilliant Brazilians. The Pretoria giants based their success on a rock-solid defence – just 25 goals conceded in 34 matches – and they were immensely difficult to beat, suffering just four defeats the whole season. The Brazilians racked up 68 points, five more than Chiefs could manage.
While it was déjà vu for the Amakhosi in finishing second, the same could be said for Orlando Pirates in third. The Buccaneers picked up 57 points in the season, the same as Cape Town Spurs and reigning champions Manning Rangers, but their superior goal difference at least saw them end in the top three.
Bush Bucks, Jomo Cosmos and Wits University rounded off the top eight teams.
Moroka Swallows and Bloemfontein Celtic again finished in mid-table, while a fierce relegation battle almost saw the likes of SuperSport United, AmaZulu and Santos suffer the drop.
In a tense relegation battle that raged into the final day of the season, it was newly promoted African Wanderers and Real Rovers - who had managed to avoid the drop by a single point last season - that suffered the ignominy of relegation from the PSL. They each finished on 31 points, just two adrift of Santos and AmaZulu in 16th and 15th place respectively. Heading into the penultimate round of matches Santos had found themselves rooted to the bottom of the table on 27 points, 3 points adrift of Real Rovers and safety. Santos managed to string together two straight wins to end the season with a 1-0 away win against Wits University and crucially, a 2-1 home victory over fellow relegation strugglers African Wanderers on the final day. Before losing to Santos on the final day, African Wanderers had managed to hold Soweto giants Orlando Pirates to a goalless draw, leaving them confident of securing the result required against Santos to ensure their status as a PSL club. In the meantime, Real Rovers, who had found themselves safe with two games to go, suffered two straight defeats, which coupled with Santos' two victories confirmed their relegation. Relegation would prove to have a disastrous effect on Real Rovers as they would not return and ultimately the club would cease operations at the conclusion of the 2000-01 season.
Pld = Matches played; W = Matches won; D = Matches drawn; L = Matches lost; GF = Goals for; GA = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points
(C) = Champions; (R) = Relegated
1 Due to the PSL following a different football calendar to the rest of Africa, which runs over a single calendar year and not the international August–May calendar followed by the PSL, Mamelodi Sundowns & Orlando Pirates were only eligible to enter the 1999 editions of the respective CAF competitions they qualified for.