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Cool head, heroic save

THE REAL MAKOYA

Goalkeepers are considered the crazy members of the gang and, other than their sometimes questionable attire, often engage in crazy antics between the posts. Flashes of former Liverpool great Bruce Grobbelaar pulling his pants down and hanging upside down from the goalposts come to mind.

There was also Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos with his outrageously colourful outfits and, of course, Colombian shot-stopper René Higuita Zapata, who was nicknamed “El Loco” for his high-risk “sweeper-keeper” antics and the world-famous scorpion kick he performed against England to reinforce the popularly held notion that goalkeepers are, indeed, mad.

But there was nothing crazy about Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango last week as he pulled off a sensational penalty save against St George in Ethiopia to stop the home side from taking the lead in their CAF Champions League game.

That stupendous save not only ensured Sundowns snatched maximum points to qualify for the knockout stage but earns him our gong as this week’s Real Makoya.

Rated among the top 10 goalkeepers in the world by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics, even above Barcelona’s Marc-André ter Stegen, and also voted the 2016 CAF Footballer of the Year based in Africa, Onyango did not hold back when playing against his former team.

“I received a warm and thunderous reception from the St George supporters,” said Onyango afterwards.

“It was very emotional returning to that venue where I spent two years playing for the team. While I acknowledged the warm reception, it was business as usual once the referee had blown his whistle.

“I felt sorry for St George because our victory condemned them to elimination, but I had a job to do for my new employers and that is the nature of football. They snatched a point off us in Pretoria but we collected all three when they hosted us.”

Should Sundowns reach the final and retain the trophy they won when defeating Zamalek last year, Onyango’s performance in Addis Ababa will be recalled as one of the turning points in their success.

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