Gavin Hunt and Pitso Mosimane played a massive role in Denis Onyango’s career. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix
Gavin Hunt and Pitso Mosimane played a massive role in Denis Onyango’s career. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Pitso Mosimane, Gavin Hunt: Two crazy coaches with a lot of quality

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Sep 15, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango has counted his blessings since arriving on the South African football scene, having been coached by the most successful coaches in the league - Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt.

Mosimane boasts a record 13 titles, including five Premiership crowns, in top-flight football, while his friend and opponent Hunt has bagged eight titles, which includes four league championships.

It was back in 2006 when Onyango landed in South Africa to join SuperSport United from his native Uganda. Mosimane was at the helm of SuperSport at the time and his bromance with then Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic played a key role in securing the services of Onyango.

But as Mosimane left to take up the role of being Bafana Bafana’s assistant coach ahead of the 2010 World Cup on home soil, enter Hunt. Under the now 56-year old, SuperSport won the league title in three successive seasons from 2008 - and Onyango was there.

However, during the 2010/11 season, Onyango spent the campaign minding the posts at now defunct Mpumalanga Black Aces. But the season thereafter, he joined Sundowns and was reunited with Mosimane late in 2012.

But it was not the kind of reunion that reignited the move to SuperSport as Onyango was loaned out to Bidvest Wits, where he reunited with Hunt, before returning to Sundowns, where he has amassed unimaginable success.

“It was fantastic, moving from Pitso to Gavin, then Pitso to Gavin and Gavin to Pitso. I think I’ve been managed by two quality coaches; yes, crazy, but two quality coaches,” said Onyango, who was speaking at the club’s domestic treble parade at their sponsor Hyundai’s headquarters in Bedfordview yesterday.

“In football sometimes you need to be crazy. You can’t play nice all the time. I think this made me stronger as a person, and it showed that football must be played with high intensity at all times and no-one is going to do you favours.”

Onyando added: “Working with both coaches has really taken out the best from me and I am really grateful. They have done really well for me and my family all these years and the seasons I’ve been in South Africa.”

Denis Onyango pose with the three trophies Mamelodi Sundowns managed to win this season. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Onyango boasts an incredible record of seven Premiership titles under his belt, among many crowns in his trophy cabinet. He shares that record with Downs captain Hlompho Kekana and midfielder Anthony Laffor, whom he’s also played with at SuperSport.

However, the Ugandan and Sundowns’ No 1 was on course to lead the pack if he hadn’t been loaned out to Wits during the 2013/14 season when Sundowns began their dominance of local football.

Onyango, though, isn’t looking at that disappointment as a setback. Instead, he says that it was a platform that enabled him to grow, and that’s why he managed to return to Sundowns and win four more league titles, the CAF Champions League and four domestic trophies as the team’s No 1.

“It would have been fantastic to win my first title with Sundowns before I went to Wits but sometimes in life you need to go a little bit low and come back stronger. And this is one of the things that pushed me to be who I am today,” Onyango said.

“When I left for Wits on loan, I came back and started playing regularly.

“The achievements (which included being named Africa’s No 1 in 2019) followed after that loan. It was not a setback, but for me a time to reflect on my life and football and come back stronger.”


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