Home Sport Soccer Vilakazi’s ‘bad timing’ turned out to be spot-on

Vilakazi’s ‘bad timing’ turned out to be spot-on

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Sibusiso Vilakazi had the last laugh after having been ridiculed for leaving Bidvest Wits.

Sibusiso Vilakazi of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates winning the Absa Premiership title last weekend. BackpagePix

SIBUSISO Vilakazi had the last laugh after having been ridiculed for leaving Bidvest Wits just before Gavin Hunt’s team made ­history by winning the Absa Premiership for the first time in the club’s history three seasons ago.

While Wits were then champions of South Africa, Vilakazi’s new team finished as bridesmaids that season when Mamelodi Sundowns ended second. He argued that he didn’t regret the decision to switch from Milpark to Chloorkop.

He did, after all, get to play at the Fifa Club World Cup and lifted the CAF Super Cup with the Brazilians, tournaments he could only dream of playing in while he was with Wits.

Vilakazi (pictured) eventually won his maiden league title last season, and returned late in this campaign to help push Sundowns over the finish line as they successfully defended their trophy.

“Twice is very nice; hopefully next year we come back to make it back-to-back-to-back,” Vilakazi chuckled. “This one is very nice because as a team and as a collective, we have done very well. What makes this so special is that we defended our title.

“To come back and defend the trophy while everyone was trying to take it from us was hard, but we managed to fight through.”

Vilakazi was forced to play a cameo role this season thanks to the Achilles tendon rupture he suffered while at Bafana Bafana. The injury was expected to have ruled him out for the rest of the season, but he pushed himself hard during his rehabilitation to come back sooner than predicted, and stronger than he was.

In his second game back he had an assist (against Baroka FC), and in the third match (against Chippa United) he was on the score-sheet to announce his return in style.

The 29-year-old is now holding thumbs hoping that his brief cameo towards the end of the season was enough to earn him a ticket to Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations with Bafana Bafana.

“Of course I would like to be there, but it’s down to the selection panel and me meeting the criteria,” Vilakazi said. “I would like to be there, but we will see what happens. I don’t know if I have done enough to earn a place since my return from injury.

“The only thing that I was hoping for (when I was out injured) was that I get through the rehab, I return stronger and ready to contribute to the team so that I give the guys a boost. I think I have managed to do that.”

Sundowns had enough depth to compete for the championship even without a star player like Vilakazi.

His friend, Themba Zwane, and captain, Hlompho Kekana, were among the key players who steered the Brazilians’ ship to a record ninth league title in the Premier Soccer League era.