Why Downs hold all the aces in title race
Winning is in Sundowns’ DNA
The Brazilians have been involved in the title fight every year since they lifted the first of four titles under coach Pitso Mosimane in 2014. Since then they have either finished second or first, showing an unprecedented consistency. This situation is second nature to the club’s players, which is why coach Mosimane could boast that his team can win its last five games. They did it last season, Orlando Pirates didn’t and that’s how the Brazilians ended up retaining the league title. The core of the Sundowns team has made winning second nature. They already have a Cup this season, something their league rivals don’t have.
Sundowns’ participation in the Caf Champions League has not only made them a continental brand, but it has also grown the players’ tactical acumen and mental resolve. Before Sundowns became a force in Africa they were humiliated by Ghana’s Medeama in the 2016 Confederation Cup playoffs. They have since become experts in managing games, especially towards the end which bodes well for them in the title race.
Less emotional baggage
It wouldn’t be a train smash for Sundowns if they didn’t win the championship. They have after all won it back to back the last two seasons. The same can’t be said for the Soweto giants. Chiefs are desperate to win the league having led for the most of the season. There is also the four-season trophy drought they want to end by winning the title. All of that adds pressure to the players who know that second best isn’t good enough. The Buccaneers are also experiencing a lengthy trophy drought of their own. The high that they are on since Josef Zinnbauer’s arrival has made the Ghost believe that they can “fetch” the league title.
Experienced technical team
Sundowns’ technical team has won every trophy on offer on the continent. They have four league titles, a of domestic trophies and the Champions League. In terms of winning pedigree, they are way ahead of the technical teams of Chiefs and Pirates. They also have been together longer. Mosimane and Manqoba Mngqithi have been together since they won the 2013-14 championship. They know which buttons to press to get the best out of their players.
Depth in squad
Sundowns have invested heavily to assemble the team they have. In strengthening their squad they looked at players who would not only do well in South Africa, but also on the continent where they have consistently made the group stage of the Champions League. They have a strong squad that can maintain their assault on two fronts. That was evident when they were without two of their best rightbacks in the injured Thapelo Morena and Anele Ngcongca. Nicholus Lukhubeni stepped up and had a blinder of a game against Chippa United on Saturday, producing a man-of-the-match performance and scoring a brilliant goal.