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Sundowns starred while other teams fought for lead supporting role in DStv Premiership campaign

Sundowns starred while other teams fought for lead supporting role in DStv Premiership campaign
Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate following their DStv Premiership clash with Cape Town City FC at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. 25 May 2024. (Photo: by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Mamelodi Sundowns finished comfortably ahead of their rivals in the latest DStv Premiership instalment. However, one impressive feat eluded the Tshwane side. 

Another DStv Premiership season recently concluded. Unsurprisingly, it was Mamelodi Sundowns that starred once again, while the other 15 teams played the supporting roles.

Sundowns were crowned South African soccer league for a record-extending seventh successive season. The latest league crown also stretched Sundowns’ overall tally in the Premier Soccer League to 14 Premiership crowns, 10 more than the next-best sides (Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs).

The only other teams to be crowned South Africa champions under the current guise of the league — which has been around since 1996 — were Bidvest Wits, Manning Rangers and Santos. They each clinched the title once.

Coincidentally the two latter clubs won their single title while being coached by former Pirates and Sundowns mentor Gordon Igesund.

With this latest victory, Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena has three league titles to his name. Only Pitso Mosimane, with five, plus Igesund and current SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt (with four each) have won the Premiership more times.

Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena celebrates with players at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria. 25 May 2024. (Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

However, none of those legendary coaches in South African soccer managed to do it while accumulating a record points haul of 73 after 30 games. Nor did they manage to leave the second-placed team trailing by a massive 23 points at the conclusion of the league campaign. Mokwena achieved both of these feats.

Nevertheless, at the conclusion of yet another memorable season for Masandawana, Mokwena was conflicted. The Tshwane giants were aiming to become the first South African top-flight team to end the season without suffering a single defeat.

However, Cape Town City had other plans. The Citizens defeated Masandawana 1-0 on the last day of the season to shatter that dream. Thus Sundowns ended the season with just a single loss in 30 league matches.

The loss to City also snapped a 53-game unbeaten streak for Sundowns in the league. Prior to losing this past weekend, they had last been defeated in September 2022.

Sundowns league titles since 1996

“Bittersweet,” Mokwena said when asked how it felt to win a seventh league crown in a row, but lose the opportunity to become South Africa’s first “invincible” side.

“We would’ve loved to do it a different way [by not losing our final game of the season]. But a wise man once told me that we plan, but God decides. The Almighty decided that it should culminate like this,” Mokwena stated. “It’s never been done in South Africa before. It’s a very difficult thing to do.

“Of course, when you get into the last match, you started smelling it. You start pre-empting that there is that possibility. But you’ve got to accept it.

I told the players after the game that winning and losing are both imposters. And you have to treat them that way,” Mokwena told journalists.

Despite their final match heartbreak, Mokwena said his players should be “applauded and adulated for rewriting history” following an eleventh league crown in a row.

Supporting cast

Pirates edged Stellenbosch to second spot via goal difference after both teams ended the season on 50 points. It was the second successive season that Pirates claimed runner-up spot and Champions League soccer as a result.

“Yes, we celebrate the Champions League spot. But obviously, we are not celebrating being second and 23 points away from Sundowns in first place,” stated the Sea Robbers’ coach José Riveiro.

Jose Riveiro

Orlando Pirates coach Jose Riveiro at Cape Town Stadium in Cape Town. 1 May 2024. (Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images)

The Buccaneers were aided by the goals of their striker Tshegofatso Mabasa. The 28-year-old started the season on loan at Moroka Swallows but was brought back home during the January transfer window.

Since his return to Orlando, playing alongside creative players such as Patrick Maswanganyi, Relebohile Mofokeng and Kabelo Dlamini — he has thrived, adding a further 10 goals to his haul this season and finishing as the top scorer in the league campaign.

Relebohile Mofokeng

Relebohile Mofokeng of Orlando Pirates fights for possession against SuperSport United at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg. 25 May 2024 (Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Chiefs had another disappointing campaign. This time around they finished in 10th spot. It is the club’s worst placing in the PSL era. They are set to announce a new coach for the 2024/2025 season. However, this is unlikely to change the club’s fortunes.

Lower down the table, Cape Town Spurs (formerly Ajax Cape Town) were relegated back to the second tier after ending the season with 19 defeats from their 30 games. DM

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