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Comment: Downs aim for ‘invincibles’ tag

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In May 2004, mining magnate Patrice Motsepe bought the Mamelodi Sundowns franchise. As the sole owner and shareholder of the club, he kick-started Sundowns’ historic trophy-laden dynasty. Since then, the Motsepe-era has had a terrific yield of 11 Premiership titles in 20 seasons and loads of other silverware.

Themba Zwane (right) of Mamelodi Sundowns receives trophy from FIFA President Gianni Infantino (centre) and CAF President Patrice Motsepe (left) after the African Football League 2023 Final against Waydad at the Loftus Stadium, Pretoria on the 12 November 2023. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

Herman Gibbs

Little did businessman Patrice Motsepe know that he had kick-started Mamelodi Sundowns’ historic trophy-laden dynasty when he purchased the franchise outright from the Tsichlas family 20 years ago (May 2004).

The multimillionaire mining magnate could not have foreseen the club’s era of dominance in the Premier Soccer League (PSL), but at the time he said: “I am putting my money where my mouth is.

Since May 2004, the Motsepe era has had a terrific yield of 11 Premiership titles in 20 seasons. In addition, the Sundowns trophy cabinet holds a slew of knockout cup titles as well continental silverware from their CAF Champions League, Super Cup and African Football League conquests.

The current Sundowns team cannot stay out of the limelight since they break records with regular monotony. Their latest Premiership conquest marks seven consecutive titles and no other team in South African professional football history can match that feat.

The last team other than Sundowns to have won the Premiership title was Wits University, back in the 2016/17 season.

Their latest Premiership win, last Thursday against Kaizer Chiefs, saw them lift the Premiership championship with six matches to spare. For most of the season they were runaway log leaders and they remain unbeaten after 24 matches.

Since the Chiefs match was played at Soccer City, their Premiership victory was celebrated on hostile territory but that did not stop the jubilant players from spraying champagne in the post-match title-winning celebrations.

Their Premiership stats are unmatched season after season. This season is no different, even at this juncture when they have played the least number of matches. After 24 matches they have scored the most goals with a haul of 47. The next- best team is Orlando Pirates with 41 goals after 26 games.

They also have the best defensive record with nine in the goals against column. Stellenbosch are next-best, having conceded 19 goals after 26 games.

Their 24-match unbeaten run as well as their 24 Premiership wins at the end of last season makes for a 48-match unbeaten streak in the league.

Sundowns’ next match will be on Wednesday when they play Golden Arrows at the Mpumalanga Stadium in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal. This will afford them a chance to spread the 2023/24 championship cheer with their hordes of KZN fans.

Sundowns then face Royal AM at home on Saturday before they return to KZN to face the same opposition for the second time in the space of four days. By the time next week Tuesday’s match at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg comes around, Royal AM could be sick of the sight of the champions.

From now until the end of the season Sundowns will be playing every four days or so. With the title already in the bag, the big challenge will be to keep players motivated so that Sundowns can continue in a winning vein.

And if that happens, Sundowns will become the first team to go through the whole league season without defeat. By that time Sundowns will have set more benchmarks: most clean sheets in a season, most goals in a season and longest winning streak since the start of a season.

But Sundowns are not without their critics among their fellow PSL clubs.

Their biggest criticism is that Sundowns buy top players they never developed. They also point out that with their money, they buy the best players from clubs, who are then destabilised in the process.

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