JOHANNESBURG - Soccer writer Njabulo Ngidi has looked at Mamelodi Sundowns and how they could fare in the Premiership this season.
Key Player: Percy Tau
He has been the Brazilians’ heartbeat with his trickery and ability to take control of a match and change it for the better. He takes on defenders without any fear and his lightning speed often leaves them bamboozled. His participation in the Caf Champions League has seen him grow as a player, unfazed even in any hostile environment.
Coach: Pitso Mosimane
Africa’s Coach-of- the-Year has turned Sundowns into a mean machine with ambitions beyond wanting to do well domestically. With his obsessive planning, Mosimane is able to dissect every team to the minutest detail. His technical team’s strength will be tested after the departure of his second assistant, Rhulani Mokwena.
They’ve gained valuable experience with their exploits in continental competition and will use it in their quest to regain the league title they lost to Wits. They have added to their depth with big-name signings such as Ghanaian goalkeeper Razak Brimah, George Lebese from Kaizer Chiefs as well as Orlando Pirates' Oupa Manyisa.
They go into their third season without a break thanks to their continental success. The physical effects have not been evident but mental fatigue has often crept in to see them fail to kill off matches. Also, given they use a regular starting team, they have become known by opponents.
The Brazilians have become a global team with ambitions that go beyond local and continental borders. As much as last season was a disappointment domestically, their Caf Champions and Super Cup crowns made up for it. They’ll be happy to win the Premiership and have a good Champions League run.
Another failure to win the league and losing their continental title on the back of last season’s inability to pick up any silverware on the domestic front could see Mosimane’s tenure as coach under threat.
Best Champions in 1998, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007, 2014 and 2016
Worst 10th in 2013
Goalkeepers: Denis Onyango, Razak Brimah, Kennedy Mweene and Thela Ngobeni. Defenders: Ricardo Nascimento, Soumahoro Bangaly, Thabo Nthethe, Motjeka Madisha, Asavela Mbekile, Wayne Arendse, Anele Ngcongca, Thapelo Morena, Tebogo Langerman, Fares Hachi and Siyanda Zwane. Midfielders: Mogakolodi Ngele, Flavio Bento, Hlompho Kekana, Sibusiso Kumalo, Mzikayise Mashaba, Themba Zwane, Sibusiso Vilakazi, Mzikayise Mashaba, Anthony Laffor, Oupa Manyisa, George Lebese and Lucky Mohomi. Strikers: Leonardo Castro, Fiston Abdul Razak, Khama Billiat, Cuthbert Malajila, Percy Tau and Yannick Zakri