Feature: Why have Sundowns been so inconsistent this season?

Sundowns, Pitso Mosimane
Goal looks at the reason behind Masandawana's inconsistency as well as whether or not their recent victory is a sign of good things to come

Mamelodi Sundowns  coach Pitso Mosimane may be able to sleep a bit easier at night considering their impressive victory over Orlando Pirates on Wednesday night.

Mosimane and his troops have been under immense pressure in recent times with results not forthcoming. Sundowns recently crashed out of the Caf Champions League, Telkom Knockout Cup as well as suffered three successive defeats. This slump has seen the Brazilians title hopes flailing with every matchday that goes by.

However, following Sundowns’ victory in Soweto, things might just be looking up for the Tshwane giants once again, but with inconsistency being the buzzword this season, how much can one really read into Sundowns’ recent result?

For the past few seasons, Masandawana have dealt with commitments on both the continental and domestic fronts, and this has severely taken its toll mentally and physically on the players.

But this does beg the question about the depth and quality of Mosimane’s side.

While Sundowns most certainly have one of the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) best starting line-ups, the rest of the team has at times fallen short.

Sundowns, Pitso Mosimane

Another important variable which could have played a role in Sundowns stuttering start to the 2017/18 season, is that of the lack of young blood in the squad - it has led to many of the senior players, the likes of Hlompho Kekana, Wayne Arendse, Tebogo Langerman as well as many others who are all on the wrong side of 30 having to battle fatigue as they play successive games without an adequate rest which does affect concentration and form, eventually leading to injury.

Also, the influence of talisman Khama Billiat cannot be underestimated. Granted that Billiat has been far from the player which set the continent alight in 2016, predominantly due to injuries, Sundowns have been massively reliant on him for goals.

Without Billat, Sundowns lack a proven goalscorer and had Mosimane had an in-form Billiat, circumstances could have been a lot different as Sundowns have dominated the games they played in but lacked that killer instinct.

While the likes of Percy Tau and Themba Zwane have shared the goalscoring duties among them they are not known to bang in the goals week in and week out. Thus, if Sundowns are to find that elusive consistency, the 53-year-old has no choice but to bolster his squad in January.

Themba Zwane Percy Tau and Motjeka Madisha of Sundowns

Nonetheless, it should also be noted that Sundowns’ problems didn't begin this season, but they have showed signs of a decline from the beginning of 2017.

While Sundowns may still be able to hold their own on the continent in South Africa it’s a different story. As the saying goes, ‘the game waits for no one’, and in Sundowns case the saying holds true as they have failed to build on their success while other clubs have become stronger.

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Yes, signing the likes of Oupa Manyisa and George Lebese might have brought with it a star-studded appeal, it wasn’t really what the Brazilians needed. Also, Sundowns have shown that they are vulnerable at the back and have a tendency to lose concentration which was apparent in their defeat to AmaZulu where they surrendered their lead in the final 10 minutes.

Lastly Mosimane’s most notable issue is his lack of consistency in his team selection, something which he prides himself on. Due to injuries, he has not had the opportunity to have a consistent starting XI and the chopping and changing has affected their preparation in a big way as players don’t have that same familiarity.

Nevertheless, If the outgoing African champions are to relive their success, they will need to make a considerable effort to rebuild the squad in January, but until then, what Wednesday’s result indicates is that Sundowns still have the clout to compete with the league’s best, it is just a matter of keeping their key players fit and taking their chances.