While it was a slow start to proceedings, once Sundowns found their footing, there seemed to be no other team worthy of lifting South Africa’s most prestigious trophy than the men from Tshwane, and while the race for the club’s Player of the Season award may seem just as emphatic to some here are our top three picks.
3. Tiyani Mabunda
Arguably one of the PSL’s most underrated midfielders, Mabunda has left a sour note among the opposition as he has been immense in the heart of the midfield along with Hlompho Kekana.
Mabunda has been a stalwart in the Sundowns starting XI, making 24 appearances and although Oupa Manyisa was brought in to give Mabunda competition, the 30-year-old continued to make a name for himself.
While he does not offer the same sort of attacking impetus like Kekana and Manyisa, he does provide energy and a way of reading the game that cannot be matched. His breakdown play has also been exemplary, especially as he plays just ahead of the back four.
2. Hlompho Kekana
The 32-year-old is certainly maturing like fine wine, and while this is a cliché that has been used far too often, in the case of the Kekana, there is not a better saying that holds truer. Not only does Kekana bring with him an abundance of experience and leadership qualities but his work rate is second to none in the PSL.
While Kekana is predominantly a defensive midfielder, what sets him apart is his ability to switch from defence to attack.
Kekana has made a total of 25 appearances this campaign, banging home three goals in the league, most notably his sensational strike from his own half which left Orlando Pirates keeper Wayne Sandilands bewildered.
These stats are even more impressive knowing that he has been used sparingly by Mosimane of late as he looked to maximise the veteran’s impact.
1. Percy Tau
All season long there has been just one player who has dominated media headlines, and while players such as Hlompho Kekana and Tiyani Mabunda have all made a claim for individual honours, Tau has certainly been well above the rest.
The 23-year-old has showed that he has what it takes to be among the country’s very best as he has claimed several men of the match awards and has rescued Sundowns time and again this season.
Although, the Brazilians were without talisman Khama Billiat for the better part of the season, Tau’s performance has certainly filled the void, and his performances have suggested that the Witbank-born playmaker is destined for even greater things.
Most impressively has been Tau’s work rate this season.
He may be small in stature, but Tau possesses a heart of a lion and his determination has seen him dominate opposition defences, scoring 11 goals and contributing 15 assists, and making him one of the most fearful attackers in the South African game.
While a 11-goal return does not seem like much, when considered that Tau is by a no means a traditional number nine, that paints a completely different picture.
Throughout the season Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane has utilised Tau upfront as a sort of false nine. This position has suited Tau as it has allowed him to use his pace and skill upfront to his advantage.
Tau has also been given somewhat a free role, similar to Billiat, and this has seen him thrive as he has also been Sundowns’ most creative outlet, but if there is one criticism of his game it would be that he needs to be a bit more lethal in front of goal.
The good thing though is that Tau still has time on his hands to improve, and with a move to Europe heavily being touted, this could perhaps be his swansong in the South African football as he looks to the stars.
However, if he does end up staying at Sundowns, it won’t necessarily be a train smash as he will surely help the Brazilians in their quest for further glory.