Triumphant Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane praised his players for keeping calm after conceding the first goal to pull off a 3-1 win over Ajax Cape Town and claim their eighth Absa Premiership title at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Saturday.
And the fiery mentor also delivered some barbs for his critics in celebrating the victory.
Sundowns were stunned by a second-minute strike from Ajax captain Mosa Lebusa, who slotted the ball into the net from inside the box after the Masandawana defence were caught ball-watching.
But Sundowns proved that they are a true championship side by hitting back within 10 minutes, as star striker Percy Tau provided the assist from the right for Khama Billiat to slide it in at the back post to equalise.
Just before the half-hour mark, Billiat was again involved as he was brought down in the box by Ajax goalkeeper Jody February, and defender Ricardo Nascimento converted the penalty to put Sundowns into a lead they never relinquished.
Soon after that, Sibusiso Vilakazi widened the gap with a superb goal that was characterised by Sundowns’ slick inter-passing, and Ajax couldn’t come back from two goals down.
“We have to thank the players – travelling, hotels week-in and week-out, Champions League... they were never complaining,” Mosimane told SuperSport in the post-match TV interview.
“We won against the most well-rested teams. I want to thank the supporters, the board, the president (Patrice Motsepe) and his family.
“Not to forget my family, my wife, my children – we’ve been through a lot. Some of the things you won’t know…
“The fans kept on singing, didn’t panic after we conceded the first goal. We’ve got a strong captain (Hlompho Kekana), they know how to do this.
“It has been very tough. I know many people are not happy, but it’s a special day. But I’m happy. Well-oiled machine, the team is on auto-pilot.”
Captain Kekana was also chosen as the Man of the Match for a typically busy performance. “We should credit to the team, I’m just happy to the champion of South Africa. Thank you to the supporters for coming out,” he said. “We have been sacrificing a lot, and we have worked so hard.”
Goal-scorer Billiat said “It looks easy, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it. We watch a lot of games, Champions League, but I want to thank my teammates”, while Tau added: “Look, we’re happy. Finally it’s done. We’ve worked hard, and it’s time to celebrate now!”