Cape Town - Former Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper John Tlale feels that Denis Onyango is reaping the fruits of his labour after a stellar year at Chloorkop.
The Uganda international helped Sundowns clinch a record seventh Premiership title last season and played a pivotal role in their CAF Champions League triumph in the second half of 2016.
Onyango's performances have not gone unnoticed as he has made the 25-man shortlist for the 2016 CAF Player of the Year (Based in Africa) award, along with Downs team-mates Hlompho Kekana, Keagan Dolly and Khama Billiat.
Tlale says it is nothing more than the 29-year-old keeper deserves after initially battling to establish himself in the Brazilians' first team following his move from Mpumalanga Black Aces in 2011.
"Onyango deserves all the accolades he has received as a goalkeeper to date," the 49-year-old told Vodacom Soccer. "He grabbed the given opportunity and fought hard to consolidate his place at Sundowns' goalkeeping position.
"You remember that he struggled for game-time hard in his first two seasons with the team, which prompted a loan move to Wits. Even on his return from Wits' loan spell the man still found it hard to command a regular place, but he practiced patience and kept on fighting.
"And look where he is now, and what he has achieved both domestically and continentally. Look, goalkeeping position is a crucial one in a game of football, so one always has to be on their toes because one mistake costs a team, and in the next game you are out.
"So, of course Onyango's patience and hard work has paid off for him. But he is now faced with a challenge of keeping his regular place in the team's starting XI because the other equally capable goalkeepers, Wayne Sandilands and Kennedy Mweene, are waiting in the wings."