In the 2011/12 campaign Orlando Pirates won three trophies, including the domestic league. They are also the only club to win three major trophies in a single season back to back as they won the Absa Premiership, the Nedbank Cup and the MTN 8 Cup in the 2010/11 season, and during the 2011/12 season Orlando Pirates also won the Abso Premiership, the Telkom Knockout Cup and the MTN 8 Cup. In the 2011/12 campaign Orlando Pirates participated in four cup finals but were only victorious in the Nedbank Cup, where they beat Bidvest Wits 3-1. Orlando Pirates’ cup form was impressive last season but the same could not be said for their league form as they finished fourth. This invokes curiosity as to whether a lot of focus, energy, or club resources were directed toward cup success as opposed to league success.

Mamelodi Sundowns were the eventual winners of the 2013/14 PSL. Their league form was impressive as they finished first to win a record sixth title, but they did not feature in any of the cup finals for that season. It seems either their poor cup success motivated them to win the Absa Premiership, or they were not fatigued as a result of not participating in the intense stages of other competitions and so could only focus on the league.

Platinum Stars won the 2013/14 MTN 8 Cup as well as the Telkom Knockout Cup, both at the expense of Orlando Pirates, but proceeded to finish eighth on the Absa Premiership log while Orlando Pirates had to settle for fourth. Once again this makes one wonder whether more attention was paid to the cup success compared to the league success.

In their inaugural season in the Absa Premiership, AmaTuks finished in eighth position. Finishing in the top eight guaranteed them a place in the MTN 8 competition for the 2013/14 season where they ended up finishing 11th. AmaTuks’ best cup form was in the 2008/09 season where they reached the Nedbank Cup finals only to lose to Moroka Swallows 1-0. With such a good run in the competition one would have expected their league form at the time to reflect the same good cup performance, but AmaTuks only earned promotion to the Absa Premiership for the 2011/12 season.

Cup success can be seen as a phenomenon that cuts across global leagues. During the 2013/14 football calendar, Real Madrid won their much anticipated La Décima (their tenth Uefa Champions League trophy) after beating fellow Spanish club Atlético Madrid. Real Madrid were also favourites to win the La Liga given the nature of their opposition in the final three remaining fixtures but this was not to be as Atlético Madrid won La Liga. This makes one wonder whether Real Madrid focused more on winning the Champions League instead of La Liga.

As with each “norm” or trend there is an exception, as teams like Manchester United (1999) won the famous treble which included a domestic league win. In the 2012/13 season Bayern Munich achieved the first German quadruple after winning the DFL Supercup, the Uefa Champions League, the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal.

The above proves that in most instances most teams who perform well in cup competitions are unable to replicate the same success in league competitions in a given football season.

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