(L-R) Manqoba Mnqgithi, Rhulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 football match between SuperSport United and Sundowns at Lucas Moripe Stadium. Photo Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
(L-R) Manqoba Mnqgithi, Rhulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela during the DStv Premiership 2020/21 football match between SuperSport United and Sundowns at Lucas Moripe Stadium. Photo Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns’ ’three wise men’ will be the key in MTN8 victory

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Oct 30, 2021

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Johannesburg - Wiser – not desperate. Mamelodi Sundowns have all the recipes they need to make up for the lost time in the coveted MTN8. And that’s why it’s probably a given that they’ll be basking in the “We Are the Champions” hymn in Durban tonight.

Sundowns are yet to win the MTN8 since its rebranding 14 years ago, despite their illustrious success in domestic football. They fell at the final hurdle twice – to Kaizer Chiefs during its inception in 2008, and the defunct Bidvest Wits in 2016.

After that humbling 3-0 defeat to the Clever Boys in Mbombela, Sundowns have never lost in a cup final, including defeating Zamalek in the final of the Champions League. That was achieved under the reign of Pitso Mosimane.

ALSO READ: Sun could set on Mamelodi Sundowns going down in a penalty shootout in MTN8

At the moment, there’s not only one, but “three wise men” at the helm: Rhulani Mokwena, Manqoba Mngqithi and Steve Komphela. The trio delivered the fourth championship in a row – and 11th overall – to the club in their first term in charge.

Of course, it’s worth a reminder that Mokwena and Mngqithi were beside Mosimane during the team’s success. But they are eager to establish their own legacy that will be told and learnt by future generations, locally, in Africa and abroad.

This term, they’ve already hit top gear from the outset. They are unbeaten in all competitions. That foundation would be consolidated by a triumph at the Moses Mabhida Stadium when they face Cape Town City in the MTN8 final tonight.

ALSO READ: Upsets in cup football can happen, says Sundowns’ Rulani Mokwena ahead of MTN8 final

The odds favour Sundowns, heading into that match. They have the depth and experience as well. Goalkeeper Denis Onyango has been in fine form between the sticks, conceding only in the MTN8 and the Champions League so far.

Despite injuries to integral defensive players such as centre-back Rushine De Reuck, Sundowns have proven that they have suitable replacements. Brian Onyango and Grant Kekana have slotted alongside Bafana international Mosa Lebusa.

The Brazilians’ most valuable department is their midfield. This is where they lock and unlock their opposition. Maestro Rivaldo Coetzee is in fine form, setting tongues wagging after being continuously overlooked by Bafana coach Hugo Broos.

ALSO READ: Mamelodi Sundowns’ Rhulani Mokwena has friends with MTN8 final benefits

Peter Shalulile has been a breath of fresh air for Sundowns’ striking unit, picking up where he left off last season. He’s scoring goals for fun.

But it’s his understanding with the rest of his teammates that has made him stand out as well.

The seamless adaptation of the new players in the team’s set-up has also been breath-taking. Neo Maema has added more firepower to the Brazilians’ attacking options – together with former Maritzburg United talisman Thabiso Kutumela.

Sundowns are the most complete team in the top-flight. Their technical team and playing personnel are used to playing games of this magnitude. And that’s why it’s a no-brainer that most pundits – including yours truly – are backing them to win.

@MihlaliBaleka

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