Jonty Mark
Football Editor
2 minute read
30 Nov 2021
11:14 am

OPINION: Onyango is ever the team player

Jonty Mark

Onyango has won a cascade of honours in the shirt of Masandawana.

Denis Onyango being sent off during the DStv Premiership 2021/22 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Sekhukhune United FC at Tuks Stadium last Saturday. (Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix)

One can only assume Denis Onyango’s recent blips for Mamelodi Sundowns are just that in a transcendent career for club and country.

ALSO READ: Sundowns to discipline Onyango?

Onyango has won a cascade of honours in the shirt of Masandawana, and literally saved the Tshwane giants time and time again.

He won’t play in their next couple of games, following his red card against Sekhukhune on Saturday, but you can bet he’ll be straight back in the side, and wearing the captain’s armband, when he becomes available.

The howlers Onyango made against SuperSport United last week stood out in how uncharacteristic they were from a keeper who is usually such a good shot-stopper.

The sending off against Sekhukhune, meanwhile, was really more down to a woeful back pass from Mosa Lebusa.

Onyango could have taken a chance and let Tshediso Patjie past him, with two Sundowns defenders sprinting back to cover. But ever the team player, he seemingly decided the best thing to do for the cause was to bring down Patjie and take his punishment.

One could even see him as heroic to the end, which in this case was seeing red.

At 36 years young, there will, of course, come a time in the not-too distant future, where Onyango will lose his place as Sundowns’ first choice.

Kennedy Mweene, the same age as Onyango, could face a race in longevity with the Ugandan, while there is also the comparatively young Ricardo Goss (27), under-used by Sundowns since signing following the sale of Bidvest Wits in late 2020.

Then there is Reyaad Pieterse (29), constantly linked with a move away from Sundowns but still there, and a fine goalkeeper in his own right.

Onyango has already retired from international duty, hanging up his gloves with Uganda in April, yet this can give no indication he intends to do the same at Sundowns any time soon.

If anything, it should improve his chances of staying as Sundowns’ first choice, without the heavy toll that travelling for World Cup and Afcon qualifiers, and major tournaments, takes on the body.

The former Caf Africa Based Player-of-the-Year, honoured after Sundowns had won the Caf Champions League in 2016, no doubt dreams of another continental gong in the colours of the Brazilians.

After all, for a side so dominant domestically, further continental prowess has to be the main aim not just of their captain, but of the whole squad.

Sundowns are currently making a fifth straight DStv Premiership title look like a walk in the proverbial park, even with the slip against SuperSport, last week, unbeaten and eight points clear, with no other side really looking consistent enough to mount a decent challenge.

Onyango, meanwhile, can sit on the sidelines for games against Stellenbosch and Royal AM, confident enough that his colleagues in the goalkeeping department will do him proud, and that he is too important to Sundowns to be dropped.