In the Pitso Mosimane era which started midway through the 2012/2013 season, there’s no full season where the club’s trophy cabinet has garnered dust - as they’ve scooped six domestic and two continental trophies.
Over that period, however, a coveted MTN8 title has eluded them since the competition’s inception 10 years ago. However, considering they are heading into a season that could enrich their history in domestic football, Mosimane’s troops will be out to grab everything that’s on offer.
Sundowns are sitting on a record nine PSL titles, so a league triumph this season will bring them to ‘La Decima’, an achievement which would be the first of its kind in South African football.
While the league is a marathon, the MTN8 is a sprint that is concluded after just four matches. And captain Hlompho Kekana vows that they’ll be at their best from the outset when they open their account against Bloemfontein Celtic in the quarter-finals at Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium this evening (8:15pm).
“It will be a difficult match because Celtic have always been tough opponents for us. They’ve twice knocked us out of the Top Eight so we want to try and rectify that. So the match is especially important to us as we haven’t been doing well in this competition.”
The pressure to win trophies has kept Sundowns on their toes in the last six seasons, as they strive to be the best on the continent.
And with the club set to celebrate its 50th birthday next year, the pressure has somewhat doubled for them to get a clean sweep of titles this season.
“Pressure is always there for Sundowns to win trophies,” Kekana admitted. “As players, we are very much aware of this pressure and this is one of those games that pressures us to try and win, and at the same time not forgetting that we have to enjoy our football.”
Considering that this may be Sundowns’ season to finally shake off their MTN8 hoodoo, they’ll be motivated by the fact that they’ve had a pre-season break, thanks to continental and domestic football almost starting simultaneously.
In addition to this, a victory tonight will revive their morale following their disappointing last two outings, losing to Otoho d’Oyo in the Caf Campions League’s preliminary round first leg and drawing to Chippa in the PSL.
Goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse is confident though that with the personnel at their disposal they can successfully compete on all fronts. “We are taking it one game at a time and focusing on what’s in front of us. We are hoping to bounce back and put our name in the hat. We’re out to win this competition and whatever else is on offer.”@MihlaliBaleka