On the basis of experience, form guide and squad depth, Mamelodi Sundowns are clear-cut favourites to clinch their eighth league title as well as the Nedbank Cup, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
The former Caf Champions League winners sit at the summit of the Absa Premiership standings with a five-point lead over Orlando Pirates, but what’s more impressive is that Pitso Mosimane’s side appear to have hit their stride at the right moment – much like they did in the title-winning 2015-16 season where they finished with a massive 14-point difference over Bidvest Wits.
Mosimane called on his side to wake up after their shock 3-2 loss to Polokwane City, which subsequently came after the 1-0 loss to ‘hoodoo team’ Cape Town City.
‘We need to be mentally stronger. But sometimes defeats like this are a wake-up call,’ he said in post-match comments.
‘Let us see. That is when you see the character of the team,’ he added.
Two consecutive league losses at a crucial time in the season would have derailed most, but not Sundowns.
Such is their dominance that they lost another league encounter against Orlando Pirates after losses to Rise and Shine and The Urban Warriors respectively.
True to his word, Jingles’ team stepped up their game, embarking on a four-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, with five goals scored and none conceded against Platinum Stars, Kaizer Chiefs, Cape Town City and Cape Town All Stars respectively.
The former Bafana Bafana coach also alluded to something which made me consolidate their title credentials a lot more.
Despite them sitting pretty at the top of the table following a 1-0 victory against Benni McCarthy’s side, Sundowns are currently enduring their worst season under Mosimane. Wait. What. Incredible, right?!
Since taking over the reins at Sundowns from Johan Neeskens in the 2012-13 campaign, Jingles has NEVER lost more than SIX games in a single PSL season. An astonishing feat!
Well, up until this season…
— Marshall P Gouts (@MarshallGouts) February 12, 2018
Having already conceded six losses for the season, Masandawana has set an unwanted record. Star duo Percy Tau and Tiyani Mabunda are, however, adamant that Masandawana will not repeat the mistakes of last season, where they drew four of their last five matches, surrendering the title to Wits.
‘The squad we have is good, we have a lot of quality and we won’t repeat the same mistakes,’ Tau told Kickoff.
‘At Sundowns we don’t repeat mistakes. We will be more smarter and we are more experienced to handle the situation,’ he added.
Having seriously bolstered their squad with new signings – Jeremy Brockie, Rivaldo Coetzee, Aubrey Ngoma, Thokozani Sekotlong, Brimah Razak, George Lebese, Oupa Manyisa, Gaston Sirino and Siyabonga Zulu – Sundowns can now rightfully compete as frontrunners in all their respective competitions.
They arguably boast so much squad depth and quality that they could make use of the rotation policy in all their competitions without it jeopardising their chances of winning the specified competition.
“Who gon stop me huh?” pic.twitter.com/T2SJCAkAW2
— Marshall P Gouts (@MarshallGouts) February 14, 2018
Mabunda uttered Tau’s sentiments and went on to reveal that they are targetting the Absa Premiership and Nedbank Cup titles.
‘We want to get the remaining cups here at Chloorkop,’ he told Kickoff.
‘We have not won anything this season, so there’s only the two cups on offer.
‘I believe we can do well and we can do that. That will prepare us for our campaign on the continent,’ he concluded.
With a large squad of talent at Jingles’ disposal, coupled with the backing of the fans and the club president Patrice Motsepe, expect Mosimane to make good on his promise of fetching the title from Wits – just like he did in the 2015-16 season.
Photo: Chris Ricco/Backpagepix
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