Mamelodi Sundowns played Stellenbosch this week last year (a 1-0 win), which happened to be the last league match played with fans in attendance, and the last match played before lockdown.
To celebrate that one year anniversary, the fixtures have thrown up the exact same fixture this weekend as the league leaders travel to the Western Cape to face Stellenbosch (at 13:00 this afternoon).
The world has changed since then, especially the Sundowns world. If you’d mentioned at this time last year that both Pitso Mosimane and Patrice Motsepe would not be at Sundowns in a year, the thought would have been incomprehensible.
The Brazilians are flying high on a 23-game unbeaten run in all competitions, and will have their eyes firmly set on extending that run. A win will also stretch their lead at the top of the take to four points, what with all the other teams not in league action this weekend.
Some fans are beginning to quietly whisper the possibility of an invincible season (in the league at least), but it may be too early for that. A more immediate target could be this:
30 – Kaizer Chiefs went 30 games unbeaten in all competitions between April 2014 and February 2015, the longest run without defeat in competitive matches of all current top-flight teams.
Yet, if you were to ask Manqoba Mngqithi, he would say the target is simply the next game. Coaches are diplomatic like that.
Let us talk about Manqoba Mngqithi for a second.
Although Mngqithi has been assistant coach for the last six and a half years at Sundowns, it is easy to forget that he has been coaching for more than a decade. His coaching journey started at Golden Arrows in 2007, where he oversaw more than 100 games at the club. Not only that:
12 – Mngqithi led Arrows on a 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions in 2009, their longest such run in their history as a PSL side in the top-flight.
Between 2010 and 2011, he coached AmaZulu and, true to form he also led them on a memorable streak.
11 – Mngqithi led AmaZulu on an 11-game unbeaten run in all competitions in 2011, Usuthu’s longest unbeaten run as a top-flight PSL club.
And now, Mngqithi, alongside Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena is in charge at Sundowns, repeating the same trick.
23 – Sundowns are unbeaten in 23 games (W16 D7 all comps, since losing their first game of the season to Bloemfontein Celtic), their longest unbeaten run across all competitions as a club in their PSL history.
He has his fingerprints at the scene of the longest unbeaten records at three of the biggest clubs in the country. Respect.
That said, his opponents today are experiencing a revival of their own. After enduring an 8-game winless run, Stellies worst run since they came into the top-flight, Clive Barker’s men have bounced back with two wins on the trot.
3 – Stellenbosch could match their best run of successive top-flight wins with a win over Sundowns this afternoon.
They’ve never beaten Sundowns though, losing three league games and getting knocked out in the Nedbank Cup last month. While they face a juggernaut, this could be their best opportunity given their own form, how they pushed Sundowns into extra time recently and Sundowns recent travels across the continent.
By Opta Jabu