JOHANNESBURG – Few will dispute that Mamelodi Sundowns are potential Absa Premiership champions in waiting, and they would have affirmed that on Wednesday night following this 1-0 victory, which stretched their lead at the top to five precious points.
Be mindful of the fact that the Brazilians still have two games in hand and they could widen the gap even further by Christmas.
They were not as ruthless here against Maritzburg United as they were in their last home game – when they hosted Baroka FC and smashed them 4-0 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium. But the narrow win is the scoreline that reflects a championship mentality.
It kicked off slow, and appeared to be heading for a goalless draw until a piece of brilliance from striker Percy Tau, who had been looking for the perfect goal all night.
When he found it, there were no qualms about just how good it was.
Tau was set up by captain Hlompho Kekana and did all the work, rounding off two Maritzburg defenders to go clean through and face goalkeeper Richard Ofori, who had denied him at least twice in the first half.
The home side were also quite desperate to address their poor record in their own backyard. Sundowns have a perfect away history this season having won all their seven games on the road, but just one game in four outings in front of their hard to please crowd.
While the three points were important, the significance of clinching victory in successive matches at home will go a long way in getting them to be an all rounded team during the title chase.
Some might argue that championship race will be a mammoth task for their rivals with Sundowns possibly building an unassailable lead at the summit.
The Brazilians have now won five of their last six Premier League matches and do not look like slowing down any time soon.
They are ruthless when they are at their best and they grind out the positive results in games where they are run close. Much like here on Wednesday night against a resurgent Maritzburg that had scored seven goals in their previous two league encounters.
It was the same in KwaMashu at the weekend when they faced Golden Arrows at the Princess Magogo Stadium. The only goal of the game there came from an unlikely source in defender Soumahoro Bangaly, and quite a spectacular one at that.
The mood lifted here in referee’s optional time – that’s how convinced the yellow nation is that Sundowns are likely to run away with this title.
The season has been full of inconsistency and extremely abnormal, with teams jumping from the bottom of half of the table to the top by merely winning a game or two. Maritzburg, who had endured a terrible slump until they beat Cape Town City and Baroka last week, are a textbook example.
But Sundowns are a cut above the rest.