Absa Premiership

5 reasons Sundowns are champions

2016-05-05 11:46
Pitso Mosimane (Gallo)

Cape Town - There was some minor resistance in the form of Wits, but in the end Mamelodi Sundowns won the PSL title both comfortably and emphatically with a 3-0 win over Tuks in Pretoria on Wednesday. 

It is the seventh time that Sundowns have been crowned league champions since the dawn of the PSL era in 1996, making them comfortably the most successful South African team in the modern era.

Under the tutelage of the always entertaining Pitso Mosimane, Sundowns had a tough start to the season, winning just one of their opening four matches. But it didn’t take long for them to emerge as front-runners, and they have never looked back. 

They currently boast the best attacking record in the league (53 goals scored) as well as the best defensive record (20 goals conceded), and given the depth in the squad it already looks like it will take a big effort from somebody if they are to dethrone the champions in 2016/17. 

Here are five reasons that contributed to Sundowns winning the league:

1. CBD

If you don't know what 'CBD' stands for, you are not invited to the PSL party. The attacking trio of Leonardo Castro, Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly has been instrumental in Sundowns' devastating form in front of goal. At times this season, Sundowns have played football in the final third that could hold its own in La Liga. That is no exaggeration, and 'CBD' has been at the heart of those moments. The trio has scored 24 goals between them (Castro 10, Billiat 10, Dolly 4) and they also boast 21 assists (Castro 4, Billiat 14, Dolly 3). All three players will enjoy headlines in the weeks of celebration that follow, but Billiat's contribution on its own is something special and there can surely be no other contender for PSL player of the season. 

2. Conditioning

It may have something to do with the depth in the squad, but it was clear from very early on in the season that Sundowns were fitter than most of their opposition. In a league like the PSL where matches are often frantic without much reward in the way of goals, that can be the difference. Sundowns never ran out of puff in the second half of the campaign, either, and credit must be given to the likes of Dolly, Hlompo Kekana, Thabo Nthethe and Billiat, who have been ever-present. 

3. Pitso gets it spot on

Say what you like about Pitso Mosimane, but he has emerged as one of the best students of the local game since his time with Bafana ended in tears in 2012 having won two of the last three PSL seasons. It is not easy to keep a squad of superstars happy, and Pitso had to make some big calls along the way, such as benching Teko Modise for large parts of the season. Pitso kept a lid on things. He was his usual confident self at post-match press conferences, but he was always gracious in both victory and defeat and he never got carried away. 

4. Soweto giants go missing 

Take nothing away from Sundowns, but their journey to the title was made a lot easier by the fact that defending champions Kaizer Chiefs and their Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates did not threaten. At the time of writing, Chiefs were 20 points behind Sundowns and Pirates 26 behind with two rounds of fixtures remaining. Chiefs, under new coach Steve Komphela, were too inconsistent to ever get their charge going while Pirates had their early season disrupted by their participation in continental competition. As a result, the biggest challenge came in the form of the ever-improving Wits. Sundowns were miles ahead of anyone, but they might not have it all there own way when the Soweto giants eventually wake up. 

5. Denis Onyango and the defence

The old Sir Alex Ferguson quote about "attack winning games and defence winning leagues" applies. Sundowns have the best defensive record in the league, conceding just 0.71 goals per game on average. A big part of that has been the heroics of Ugandan goalkeeper Denis Onyango, who kept out the experienced Wayne Sandilands for much of the campaign.

Read more on:    sundowns  |  pitso mosimane  |  soccer
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