This week the euphoria was all about Mamelodi Sundowns clinching the Absa premiership for the first time since 2007. While the Tshwane outfit has enjoyed a host of congratulatory messages on their triumph, many have asked whether the outcomes of the league would have been the same if Kaizer Chiefs had not slipped towards the end of the season. This is a fair question best answered by the performances of Pitso Mosimane’s men.
Two months back I wrote about whether Chiefs have enough ammunition to fire in all the competitions they were taking part in (CAF Champions League, Absa Premiership and the Nedbank Cup). Clearly they did not, but what do we do with pundits who are now, all of a sudden, skeptical of Sundowns winning the league? In a way Amakhosi’s slip did help Sundowns, but did it do so much that no one in Mosimane’s star studded camp deserves the credit? Absolutely not.
When Dean Furman, May Mahlangu and Lehlohonolo Majoro missed the penalties that saw Bafana Bafana bow out of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals, the critics suggested that maybe the penalties should have been given to the more experienced or senior players in the team. Maybe they were right, but if that is the case, why not applaud the Sundowns senior players who stepped up to the plate when it mattered most to help the Brazilians clinch league honours when, at the beginning of the season people had all but ruled them out of title contention.
Alje Schut, Esrom Nyandoro, Teko Modise, Surprise Moriri, Kennedy Mweene, Hlompho Kekana, Elias Pelembe and Lebogang Mokoena all had the responsibility of picking Downs up when Pitso Mosimane lost the players who did the job for him in the first half of the season. They had a duty to show young players such as Khama Billiat, Dove Wome, Bongani Zungu and Ramahlwe Mphahle just how a championship can be won even if your so-called “best players” are not available for selection.
These senior players had a responsibility of helping the team pick up results even when all odds were against them. Orlando Pirates, Chiefs, Polokwane City, Mpumalanga Black Aces, Bloemfontein Celtic and Moroka Swallows all lost to Sundowns by a goal to nil. Again the senior players came to the party and scored those goals. A rejuvenated Modise against Polokwane, Swallows and Chiefs; Pelembe against Black Aces, Moriri against Celtic and that Kekana wonder goal against Pirates.
On the flip side, Chiefs’ senior players also had a duty to do but failed when it mattered most, missing penalties in their semi-final match against Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup. With that said Downs deserved the league title and even though many would not want to believe it, they have a squad to defend it and do well in the CAF Champions league. Significantly the Brazilians scored more goals than any other club and the purists will argue that for that very reason, they are worthy champions of South Africa.
Congratulations Masandawana, now go get that star.