COMMENT: Sundowns show Sibusiso Vilakazi that playing in the Soweto Derby isn't everything

Backpage Pix
Following Masandawana's recent triumph, Goal looks at why Vilakazi's move to the Brazilians came at the right time

For many, playing in the Soweto Derby is seen as the pinnacle of South African football, but in recent years, success has eluded both Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

This has seen many of the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) biggest stars opt for moves in the direction of the league’s emerging giants. One such star is Mamelodi Sundowns talisman Sibusiso Vilakazi.

Prior to joining the Tshwane giants, Vilakazi emerged as a target for Kaizer Chiefs as well as Orlando Pirates, even suggesting that he would one day hope to play in the famous Soweto Derby.

Article continues below

However, in a surprise coup by Pitso Mosimane, Vila as he is affectionally known, snubbed the Soweto giants for a move to Tshwane.

While many, especially Amakhosi fans, would have thought that the Bafana Bafana international would live to regret the move, he now boasts something which neither Pirates nor Chiefs have achieved in a while - the PSL title.

Although, Vilakazi had a slow start to life at Sundowns, he is finally hitting the form that saw him shoot to stardom during his time with Bidvest Wits.

While the 28-year-old would almost certainly have felt a sense of disappointment after leaving Wits as they claimed eventual league glory, with Sundowns now champions of South Africa, the monkey is finally off his back.

Mamelodi Sundowns PS

But Sundowns’ success in recent years is no fluke. Since the beginning of the Mosimane era, there has been a well thought out plan which has worked for Sundowns.

The 53-year-old tactician realised that in order to be the biggest team on the continent, one would need to earn that title by beating the best.

In many ways, it is that broader thinking that has seen the Brazilians not only conquer Africa but being recognised as one of best on the continent.

While Chiefs in particular, under former coach Stuart Baxter, enjoyed domestic success, they were never able to realise their full potential on the continent, perhaps this is what convinced Vilakazi to join Sundowns and sacrifice the Soweto Derby in favour of greater success.

Not only is he now fighting it out on the continent making a household name for himself, at the same time, he has been a part of arguably one of Sundowns’ best ever teams.

Mamelodi Sundowns champions April 2018

This is highly contrasting to the fortunes of their Soweto rivals. While Pirates and Chiefs have struggled despite Bucs seemingly back on the resurgent path, Sundowns have grown in leaps and bounds.

Sundowns have not only recorded continental triumphs in the 2016 Caf Champions League and the subsequent Caf Super Cup, but prior to their success, they had won two league titles in 2013/14 and 2015/2016, a Nedbank Cup and a Telkom Knockout crown.

But while Vilakazi is yet to realise that kind of success, the stars look to once again be aligning at Chloorkop.

After falling out of the Nedbank Cup, a potential treble is no longer on the cards, but with Sundowns still in Champions League contention, it could still be a rather bright campaign for Vilakazi.