Why have Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates fallen so far behind Mamelodi Sundowns?

Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate winning Caf Champions League
Downs completed four big signings in January - Mokoena, Nasir Ahmed, Ralani and Saavedra, while Bucs and Amakhosi made none

Mamelodi Sundowns' dealings in the January transfer window have put more daylight between them and floundering Soweto clubs Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

Increasingly, players are snubbing the likes of Pirates and Chiefs to join Sundowns, and the more successful the Pretoria club are becoming, the more players choose them over the Soweto giants.

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Worryingly if you're a Chiefs or a Pirates fan, Sundowns seem in danger of pulling further away from the chasing pack.

So how has this happened - what have Sundowns done right, and the other clubs done wrong?

Money

There's no denying it, that to a large extent, Sundowns have bought their way to success. For 15 years now, the club owner and one of Africa’s richest men, Patrice Motsepe, has been throwing cash at the team.

Sundowns have been able to spend large sums bringing in players, and paying the best salaries. In the early years, and even more recently, not all their signings have been successful, and a lot of players have seen their careers stagnating.

But with so much money available, it's never really been a problem and Sundowns have been able to absorb their losses. Other clubs just can't compete with that.

Management

Since the Pitso Mosimane era (2012 onwards), Masandawana have become an increasingly well-run, well-structured team, with a low turnover in terms of the technical team and management.

There is good stability, there seems to be less interference from upper management when it comes to on-the-field matters, and the continuity of having a coach for eight seasons like was the case with Mosimane, has made a marked difference.

What Downs have done so well is to take the success which Mosimane initially brought, and to build on that, to create a club and players ingrained with a winning culture. With Mosimane's former lieutenants Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena now at the helm, it's proving a difficult train to stop for the opposition.

Ambition

Motsepe always made it clear that he wanted to conquer not only the PSL, but also Africa, and the world. Aiming so high has helped instil a real culture of excellence at the club.

When it comes to recruitment, Masandawana scour the globe, unlike their rivals who often look local or to Southern African nations for a bargain.

Coupled with the innovations and partnerships, not to mention the success of their women's team, it's clear to see that Sundowns are biding by their motto that the ‘Sky Is The Limit’.

How do Bucs and Amakhosi catch up?

Money doesn't solve everything, but Chiefs and Pirates are going to have to spend more in the transfer window, and also ensure that they spend wisely, and that their recruitment structures are improved.

The Soweto giants need to look carefully at their behind-the-scenes staff and ask themselves if they have the right people for the job – not only for this season but for the next five or 10 years.

With Sundowns, you feel like there is a long term vision. At Chiefs and Pirates, it feels like things have gone stale and are in need of a shake-up, through the two clubs. That Pirates still don’t even have a permanent head coach says a lot, while Chiefs have also made poor choices in their own player and coach recruitment over the past six or seven years.

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