Tumo Mokone

Early United catch the worm

2010-02-26 15:15
Sport24 columnist Tumo Mokone (File)
Tumo Mokone

If this column reads like something you have heard it before, it’s because lightning has struck again at the same place – for the third time! SuperSport United are Absa Premiership champions for the third consecutive season.

GALLERY: SuperSport United win PSL title

Like last season, the modest Pretoria side left their closest chasers gasping at the end. Last year it was Orlando Pirates, who finished the strongest team and lost out narrowly to United. This time it was another fancied foe, Mamelodi Sundowns, who staged a magnificent late surge and earned kudos for their claim to the title by beating United in December, and thus reduced the lead of city rivals to just three points at that stage.

United however went into the Christmas break at the top of the pile, thanks to a phenomenal run of point-collecting and goal-scoring. With just one match to go to finish their 2009/10 programme, United have scored 51 goals in 29 matches. Sundowns are second best with 40 goals. These statistics clearly show that United are in a class of their own, and winning the league for the third season running cancels all doubt about their pedigree.

What did United have this season to make them the team to beat?

The big name players in the PSL are not at United, but at Pirates, Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs. After Sundowns’ big bucks lured United’s biggest star, Mozambican Elias “Dominguez” Pelembe, in the pre-season last year, Matsatsantsa did not break the bank to replace him.

Coach Gavin Hunt promoted an unknown amateur by the name of Thandani Ntshumayelo. The Free State-born teenager was thrown into the deep from the outset and he never pleaded for time to acclimatise. His effort in the first half of the season contributed hugely to United’s successful run at the top of the log.

After the long break necessitated by the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, Ntshumayelo had visibly burnt all his energy reserves. The club did not raid the market during the December-January transfer window period, so Hunt had to make do to with what he had. His team was a healthy mixture of experience and youngsters who are still unrecognisable in the streets despite being champions.

One of United’s experienced players, midfielder-cum striker Jabulani Maluleke, was plucked from the obscurity of the lower divisions, where he played for Black Leopards last season. Another veteran, Dario Monteiro, must be thanking the soccer gods for inspiring his expulsion from Sundowns. Now he has a champion’s medal to show for his troubles!

It must also be noted that United nearly lost one their few stars, Daine Klate, to Pirates during the season. Klate would have earned a lot more money at Pirates, but he chose to stay at the club where he enjoys bigger respect. Even more important, he is used to winning trophies with United, while Pirates have to look all seven years back to remember the last time they won anything.

Klate, an attacking midfielder, is his club’s top scorer, with 10. No one at Pirates has scored more. Apart from collecting the Golden Boot trophy, Klate will contest the title of footballer of the season at the club with fullback Morgan Gould. The Bafana Bafana defender was his team’s shining light. In my book he is a favourite for the PSL’s top prize of footballer of the season.

As is clear, SuperSport United do not rely on super stars to achieve success. What other clubs can learn from them is simple: make hay while the sun shines. It is an old philosophy of life and it is still relevant in modern times. 

The message to all other PSL clubs is that the league is a marathon, not a sprint. You need a strategy, discipline and stamina to stay on course until you hit the tape. And as United have shown over the past three seasons, the trick is to win the early battles which goes a long way to winning the war.

Tumo writes exclusively for Sport24.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

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