JOHANNESBURG – Mamelodi Sundowns took the winning mentality up a notch in the past six seasons but one of the team’s stalwarts believes coach Pitso Mosimane’s burning desire to win is the fuel that drives them to be the best.
Late in 2012, Mosimane took over the reins from Johan Neeskens, saving a Sundowns team that was caught in the relegation quagmire. And the then recently sacked Bafana Bafana coach turned the Brazilians from pretenders into real contenders, winning the Premiership and Nedbank Cup in his first full term.
From then on, winning became the norm at Sundowns in domestic football, scooping three more Premiership titles and the Telkom Knockout in five seasons.
Their hunger and desire to be the best enabled Sundowns to broaden their horizons to continental football, winning the Caf Champions League and Super Cup in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
“We have a super coach in Pitso Mosimane. We have a super technical team that’s doing very well, ensuring that every mindset that’s instilled in us is very positive,” midfielder Tiyani Mabunda explained.
“We don’t deprive ourselves of success, we see ourselves winning each and every cup. We’ll compete to the best of our abilities. It doesn’t matter who’s in the field of play and up against us, we just go out there and do what we are known for, which is winning cups.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s pre-season or friendly, we want to win. You see how the coach emotionally gets when we don’t win and he’s instilled a winning mentality in us.”
While Sundowns have been going about their business of being the best, their closest rivals in the past two seasons, Orlando Pirates, have been hiding behind “taking every match as it comes” sentiments.
To an extent, Pirates have had nothing to show for their impressive exploits, justifying the powers of “speaking things into existence”.
This term will probably be no different as Sundowns have already set their sights on bagging La Decima (their 10th) Premiership title.
Having defeated arch rivals and neighbours SuperSport United in their Premiership opener on August 3, the defending champions will be banking on continuing the momentum against Chippa United at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium today (7.30pm).
And Mabunda sees new signing Sammy Seabi playing an integral role in them reaching their targets.
“Seabi is an exceptional player, we’ve been looking at him for a while,” he said.
“Even for us as players, he was one of the players that was giving us a tough time against Polokwane City. We are happy that he’s here to bolster the squad, help us in that midfield position. Our game is about rotation and the more players we have in that position, the more we can do well.
“He’s adjusting and been doing well at training. We are just looking forward to seeing him in the yellow jersey, and we believe that time will come.”
Having lost 2-1 to AS Otoho d’Oyo of Congo in the Champions League preliminary round first leg last weekend, full points for Sundowns tonight will serve as a huge morale booster as they head into an MTN8 quarter-final against Bloemfontein Celtic at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium on Saturday (8.15pm).@Mihlalibaleka