JOHANNESBURG – Pitso Mosimane was uncharacteristically muted in his celebrations after Mamelodi Sundowns’ won their eighth PSL title.
But then again, few people excitedly celebrate a feat they knew all along was guaranteed, don't they?
“To be honest, the league (title) has never been under any threat. We were there from the beginning and here we are (at the end),” the Brazilians coach said, moments after leading his team to a 3-1, come-from-behind defeat of Ajax Cape Town which delivered him his third championship triumph in five seasons.
The truth, actually, is that Mosimane knew late last season, after BidVest Wits deposed his team as the local elite football champions, that he would regain the title.
“We will fetch the trophy. We know the address. It’s just off the highway,” he had said at the time.
That was part of his narrative throughout this season and late on Saturday, at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium, long after the celebrations had subsided and he held court with the media just off the pitch, 'Jingles' made sure to remind all.
“We were the only ones who have been saying we want the league. And we got it.”
As it is, it is not that Sundowns wanted the league - they had to win it.
Mosimane continued: “There’s pressure to win at Sundowns. Sure, congratulations to the players for winning it because it has been a long season but we are supposed to win. At Sundowns we have to win, every game and every week. I know that at some teams they were saying people are not under pressure to win the league, but we wanted to win the league. And we said it.”
Sundowns though, did not just say it. They literally put their money where their mouth is, to borrow the popular cliché.
No doubt victims of their own success, the Brazilians found themselves having to play almost a game every three days, given their participation in the Caf Champions League, which this season overlapped with the Absa Premiership in such a fashion that they participated in two editions of it.
And then there were also the local cup competitions in which Mosimane’s men generally went into the latter stages.
“Of course it did not come easy. For the players to be playing Champs League, then try and win the Nedbank Cup and reach the semi-finals and play every three days ... (it) was tough.”
“When you win the league under those conditions, where you have two Champions League (editions) overlapping in one season of the PSL, you really feel the boys have given you the best and you must thank them for that.”
That they managed to overcome an Ajax side that started like a house on fire and took the lead as early as the second minute via captain Mosa Lebusa, showed Sundowns’ class.
This, after all, was a team that had endured a tough week out in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands where they suffered a cup semi-final defeat to a Maritzburg United side that later stalled their Absa Premiership coronation by holding them to a draw in the league.
In front of their home crowd in Atteridgeville at the weekend, however, Sundowns showed just why they are the PSL’s most successful team.
Their response to going behind early was typical of a championship side as they put three goals past the Urban Warriors before the break and then protected that lead until the end, not by being defensive but through playing their normal attacking game.
While many a PSL teams are looking forward to a good rest, Mosimane and his team are anticipating another gruelling Champions League group stage campaign, which starts this weekend when they host defending champions Wydad Casablanca.
To some, he may sound arrogant when he says it is unfair of anyone to compare him or his club to the rest of the PSL's sides. But such has been Sundowns’ schedule and success in the last five years that there can be no arguing against his standpoint.
Saturday’s league title win was enough evidence to that.