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Mamelodi Sundowns’ Mokwena dismisses Middendorp’s PSL title talk: ‘No league is won in January’

20:18 GMT+3 04/01/2023
Rhulani Mokwena Mamelodi Sundowns.
Mamelodi Sundowns’ Rhulani Mokwena has dismissed Ernst Middendorp’s claim that Masandawana are already the Premier Soccer League title winners.
  • Middendorp said no one can stop Downs
  • Mokwena maintains there is long way to go
  • Masandawana have healthy lead at the top

WHAT HAPPENED? Following their 2-0 victory over Swallows on Tuesday, Masandawana – now with 11 wins, two losses, and a draw - opened a seven-point lead at the top of the Premier Soccer League standings.

After Swallows failed to stop the league heavyweights, Middendorp said ‘it is very clear that Sundowns have won the league already’ but Mokwena does not buy that talk.

WHAT HAS BEEN SAID: "It's too early to say that the league is wrapped up because we still have such a long way to go," Mokwena is quoted as saying by SABC Sport.

"No league title has ever been won in January, and there are still so many games to go.

"This was an important win against a very difficult team [Swallows]. We expected it, we spoke about it even here in the presser; we said it was going to be difficult, and it proved to be very difficult.

"These are the games that win you championships."

AND WHAT IS MORE: Of their eight straight wins in the league, four have come since Mokwena was elevated as the head coach.

However, the former Orlando Pirates tactician does not want to take credit for the positive run.

"It's not necessarily four games because I know the change happened, but from a personal space, I was always the co-head coach," he added.

"So, there's not really too much excitement for me in that space as long as the club keeps winning, the supporters keep getting happy and the players do very well.

The goalkeeping department – which has not conceded a single goal in the last six games across competitions - has been one of the most outstanding departments of Sundowns.

"Denis Onyango is exceptional, Kennedy is exceptional, Reyaad Pieterse is exceptional; and Jody February is exceptional too.

"Then the goalkeeping department is led by a good human being in coach Wendell Robinson, who happens to be a former professional football player and extremely talented football coach.

"So, when you have that in your space, it's not only about Ronwen, who has improved his game tremendously."

Ronwen Williams has emerged as the club’s regular number one choice since he signed.

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Sundowns’ current form has also been inspired by their ability to score. In the last six games, they have scored 19 goals even though they have been operating without the Golden Boot holder, Peter Shalulile, who has been out of action due to an injury.

The Namibian is, however, close to returning, and his availability will be a huge boost in Sundowns’ race to defend the league title.

WHAT NEXT FOR SUNDOWNS? Third-placed Richards Bay will host the Tshwane giants on January 6.