Mamelodi Sundowns might not be the most popular team in South Africa, but there is absolutely no doubt they are the best, and by a distance that just seems to grow wider and wider by the day.
Sundowns wrapped up a fifth successive DStv Premiership title on Wednesday, a goalless draw with Cape Town City enough to make it mathematically impossible for anyone to catch them at the top of the table.
It is the 12th title Sundowns have won in the Premier Soccer League era, more than Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates put together. Chiefs, and to a lesser extent the Buccaneers, might have the fans, but it is Sundowns who have the trophies, and a domestic treble is possible this season if they can win the Nedbank Cup.
Sundowns are the richest side in the country, backed by the millions of mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, and have a transfer budget that no other team can compete with. This certainly gives the Tshwane giants an advantage over the rest, but that does not mean a league title every season is a given, by any stretch of the imagination.
Pitso Mosimane did a brilliant job building Sundowns into a winning machine, a job that has been followed up in some style by the coaching duo of Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena, or trio if you include ‘senior’ coach Steve Komphela.
Sundowns have moved seamlessly, on the domestic front at least, into their latest era, and have been barely challenged this season – the league may have been officially settled on Wednesday, but in reality it was done and dusted months ago.
It is up to the rest to close the gap but those best placed, Chiefs and Pirates, don’t really seem set to do so any time soon.
Chiefs have just sacked another coach in Stuart Baxter, while Pirates have reached the Caf Confederation Cup semifinals, but have continued to stumble domestically. Perhaps it is the new money of Royal AM that will present a problem to Sundowns next season.
Someone needs to, because Sundowns are making this league boring with their brilliance. Rulani Mokwena admitted this week he was worried about the Premiership turning into a ‘farmer’s league’ scenario, accusations levelled at Ligue 1, where PSG are so dominant, and the Bundesliga, where Bayern Munich seem to win the league every year.
But Mokwena is too late, it already has.