Newly crowned PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns’ record-breaking fifth successful defence of the Premiership trophy has only one blemish: their surrendering of a CAF Champions League semi-final place to Angolan champions Petro de Luanda last weekend.
Masandawana have earned their stripes, despite not being the most popular side in local football, as far as a fan base and support go, compared to Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
However, Downs’ 12th league title since 1996 has turned them into a force in African football as their trophy cabinet is overflowing.
KaboYellow fans are the happiest bunch, despite the Champions League setback, while the Buccaneers and Khosi-4Life are sulking as Sundowns gun for a treble after winning the MTN8 at the beginning of the season.
Co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi blamed himself and his technical team members, and the long stoppages for video assistant referee (VAR) decisions, but was full of praise for his players after the Champions League loss.
The PSL champions will be back next season in their quest for continental glory and their second star.
“Probably, it’s us the leadership that will have to take the bullet and say maybe we need to do better and plan better in the next coming matches to make sure that we improve in this space because we are not achieving our ultimate goal,” Mngqithi said.
“The momentum of the game was killed by a lot of things. [For] one, the VAR decisions took too long, although I wouldn’t say they were right or wrong.”
CAF president Patrice Motsepe’s club, now run by his son Tlhopie Motsepe, a well-known entrepreneur and the club’s chairperson, should be content with his return on investment.
After the departure of coach Pitso Mosimane to Al Ahly, the roping in of three-head coaches was heavily criticised, but the arrangement is working wonders, with Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena in charge of the technical side of things and Steve Komphela doing the spadework in the background.
Downs booked a place in the Nedbank Cup final against Marumo Gallants on May 28 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in the North West after emerging victorious during a semi-final clash against Royal AM in Durban on Saturday night, in pursuit of the ultimate accolade in the 2021/22 campaign.
The Brazilians’ remaining league matches are against Sekhukhune United, Chiefs, Stellenbosch, and Royal AM. If they manage to win them all, they will finish the season with 70 points.
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