Mamelodi Sundowns coach Gordon Igesund appeared as ebullient as a schoolboy who had raided the cookie jar after his team's hard-earned 1-0 Premier league victory over Free State Stars at a sultry Goble Stadium in Bethlehem on Saturday afternoon.
After a painstaking 120 minutes of meticulous football, Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune emerged the hero as he made three saves in the Telkom Knockout Cup final to give his team another famous cup victory over Mamelodi Sundowns at a packed Loftus Stadium on Saturday night.
This time last year Muhsin Ertugral was calm and affable. He was clocking success after success with Ajax Cape Town, whose players he called his chickens -- mostly because of their youth. It was around this time that he was preparing for the Telkom Cup final, the first of two finals to which he led his chickens last season.
There is a stark difference of opinion as to how Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns view their status in South African soccer: Chiefs claim the Brazilians are attempting to usurp their role of pre-eminence while Sundowns, for their part, insist they have already achieved this objective.
Last season Ajax Cape Town beat Mamelodi Sundowns four times under the guidance of Muhsin Ertugral, who also led the young Cape team to an emphatic victory in the Absa Cup, beating none other than Sundowns in the final. This Saturday Ertugral's Kaizer Chiefs take on Sundowns in the final of the Telkom Knockout Cup.
Telkom Knockout finalists Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns failed to imprint a psychological advantage for their cup clash next month in a goalless draw at King's Park Stadium on Wednesday night. After Ajax Cape Town clobbered Moroka Swallows 4-1 in Cape Town, Chiefs now trail the log leaders by a massive 10 points.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Gordon Igesund faces arguably the toughest test of all Premier Soccer League (PSL) coaches as he guides his team towards a third consecutive league title as well as a third cup final this year. "The better the team becomes, the more challenges you face and have to accept," Igesund said on Monday.
Mamelodi Sundowns are without a doubt the favourites in Saturday's Telkom Knockout semifinal clash against Free State Stars at the Absa Stadium in Kimberley. The defending league champs knocked out Golden Arrows and Thanda Royal Zulu 3-0 and 3-1 respectively en route to the Telkom semis.
It might not have been the kind of "Hand of God" goal that Diego Maradona immortalised, but battling Premier Soccer League champions Mamelodi Sundowns secured a much-needed 1-0 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic at the Free State Rugby Stadium on Wednesday night with what could be termed "a gift from the gods".
In the 1980s an unknown midfielder-cum-striker, Owen da Gama, came off the bench for Moroka Swallows to score in a 2-1 victory in the Soweto derby against Orlando Pirates. Little did he know then that he would one day be the Bucs' head coach.
Mamelodi Sundowns arrived in a "scorching" Lubumbashi for Sunday's crucial Confederation Cup game against the Democratic Republic of Congo's TP Mazembe on Friday without injured stars Ezrom Nyandoro, Surprise Moriri and Brent Carelse.
"It is a hammer blow' to be without players of their calibre, said coach Gordon Igesund.
Orlando Pirates coach Bibey Mutombo says he is not the first Pirates coach to be put under pressure from the fans. Duh! Given that this is the club's 70th anniversary and that it boasts millions of passionate and opinionated fans, it stands to reason there must have been one or two other coaches before Mutombo, whose governance of the team did not meet the supporters' expectations.
Expect a touch of sadness at Saturday night's SAA Supa8 final between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates at King's Park Stadium in Durban -- likely to be a highly charged, electric occasion. The close association both clubs had with late Sundowns player Gift Leremi will account for the lingering pall.
Mamelodi Sundowns lost ground in their challenge for an African Confederation Cup final place this weekend after losing 1-0 to Astres Douala in Cameroon. A softly awarded penalty midway through the second half settled the Group A clash with Roland Ndjam sending Calvin Marlin the wrong way from the spot kick.