On Wednesday evening, Bidvest Wits were crowned Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions following Mamelodi Sundowns' failure to defeat Maritzburg United in Tshwane on the same night.
It was always going to be a tough ask for Masandawana, who had to rely on other teams to do them favours by beating Wits in order to have had any chance of defending their title.
However, one cannot look past what Sundowns have achieved this season. Despite falling at the final hurdle, they fought a great fight and showed determination to overcome the trials of the 2016/2017 campaign.
When Sundowns do an assessment of their campaign, they will notice that at many stages in the season they were responsible for their own fate.
Most recently, Sundowns had the ideal opportunity to surpass Wits, but they squandered a two-goal lead against Baroka FC, a phenomenon that was apparent throughout the campaign. Perhaps if Sundowns managed to hold on, we would be talking a different story.
They were guilty of dropping too many points at various stages of the season, but this could be linked to fatigue. They played over 50 games in all competitions this season, and that took its toll on their key players in the second half of the campaign.
After all, the Brazilians spent a considerable part of the season playing catch up and suffered many injuries in the process. Influential players such as Khama Billiat, Denis Onyango and a list of others all spent weeks out on the side-lines which forced Mosimane to shuffle his winning team, and as a result, the team lost momentum.
Although, Sundowns’ campaign will always be remembered for their massive wins over Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United, it was their failure to kill off the smaller teams which hurt their chances of defending their league title.
Despite losing only five games all season, the Brazilians registered eight draws and at the end of the day, they know that they lacked the killer instinct in front of goal. Players such as Percy Tau and Motjeka Madisha were revelations this season, but in all honesty Sundowns never really had a proven goalscorer with both Leonardo Castro and Anthony Laffor in and out of the team.
On many occasions, Tau was guilty of naivety on the ball which saw the Sundowns’ fans get on his back, but Mosimane persisted with him and to the youngster’s credit, he gave a good account of himself. But for a club of Sundowns’ calibre, not having a proven goalscorer with at least ten goals a season in him is worrying.
Nonetheless, Sundowns will not necessarily see their campaign as a failure. Mosimane’s men have not only won the Caf Champions League, but have engraved their name on the Super Cup trophy as well. What is certain though, is that they will be hurting and you can be sure that next season they will come back stronger and hungrier for success.