By Spy Uganda
Goalkeeper Denis Onyango has set a new standard for South African football after helping Mamelodi Sundowns win a record-extending 15th Premier Soccer League title.
The 36-year-old Ugandan not only helped his side make it to an unprecedented fifth championship in a row but also became the first player to win nine South African league winners medals.
Onyango, who moved to South Africa in 2006 via St George in Ethiopia, won his first three titles at SuperSport United from 2008-10 and has added six more with Sundowns.
The former African Goalkeeper of the Year played for Sundowns on Wednesday as they drew 0-0 at home with Cape Town City to secure the title with four matches to spare – the earliest triumph by any team since 2006-07.
Co-coach Rulani Mokwena paid tribute to the Sundowns squad after their landmark achievement.
“The most important people are the football players. They have been magnificent this season and what they have achieved on the pitch has been incredible,” he said.
“If I talk to you about how many times we’ve changed systems, how many build-up schemes we’ve got, how many high press schemes, it’s only a reflection of the quality and the intellectual capacity of our players.
“We’re very proud of them and just honored to be their coaches. We’ve spoken a lot about trying to improve what we have done last season. We had a better season than what we had last season.
“We would have liked to do better in the Champions League but to amass the number of points we have with four games to go and win the MTN 8 trophy which is something that eluded us was great.”
Winning the title has gone some way to make up for the disappointment of the Sundowns’ surprise quarter-final elimination at the hands of Angola’s Petro Atletico in the African Champions League last Saturday.
Onyango, who has battled with knee trouble this season, remains Sundowns’ first choice, with former Zambia captain Kennedy Mweene, 37, his understudy.
Mweene, who stepped in for some crucial games this season, collected his seventh league medal – which have all with Sundowns since 2014.
The players will be presented with the trophy and their medals on the last day of the season on 21 May, when they meet Royal AM in Durban.
In the meantime, Sundowns play the same side away on Saturday in the South African FA Cup semi-final as they seek a clean sweep of all domestic honours, having won the MTN 8 cup competition in October.