Historically, over the past few seasons, Mamelodi Sundowns have been particularly slow starters in a league campaign. Now, after numerous weeks off during the Covid-19 lockdowns and with only a few games to go in 2019-20 league campaign, their title rivals Kaizer Chiefs hold the advantage, writes DEAN WORKMAN.
‘You know Sundowns, we always start like this, isn’t it? We always start like this and I think you know the end. What is the end? We are OK,’ said coach Pitso Mosimane after a sluggish start to 2018-19 when his side went on a six-game winless streak.
This is nothing new to the Brazilians who have endured slow starts over a number of seasons. The fact that they have never won the MTN8 – the first trophy up for grabs at the start of the season – highlights that Sundowns take some time to get going.
‘It’s a very difficult tournament for us; it’s a pre-season tournament. We are not ready then, because we are signing players and we are in between the Champions League, so it always becomes difficult for us. We are never really fit [for the MTN8] and you will see again this year,’ commented Mosimane on the tournament in 2019.
The slow start was again apparent with the 2019-20 campaign as they won just five of their first 10 league games, all while high-flying Kaizer Chiefs topped the table with a brilliant start.
The Brazilians, though, as they have done so many times, began to build up some steam as the season progressed, winning the Telkom Knockout, progressing to the quarter-finals of the Caf Champions League and booking a semi-final spot in the Nedbank Cup – all while looking like the favourites to chase Chiefs down. But, then Covid-19 hit.
The break has massively curtailed their chase for the league title and despite beating Wits to progress to the Nedbank Cup final since the resumption of football, they look like a shadow of the team we saw before lockdown.
In the league, Sundowns are without a win since the restart having drawn twice and lost once, which has handed the advantage to Chiefs, who now sit six points clear at the top on the same number of games following their draw and win in their first two fixtures in the bubble.
Chiefs, on the other hand, got off to a flyer this campaign under Ernst Middendorp, winning eight of their first 10 league games and will be hoping to hit those heights again as they look to seal their first piece of silverware since 2015.
I have no doubt that with their experience and know-how, Sundowns would have won the league title without any Covid-19 interruption. Now, however, following an extended break from football the side looks flat and lethargic and the title is now Kaizer Chiefs’ to decide.
You may also like