IT WAS a night to remember for Peter Ndlovu, Esrom Nyandoro, Cuthbert Malajila and Khama Billiat as Mamelodi Sundowns finally clinched the South African Premier Soccer League title on Tuesday with a comprehensive 3-0 destruction of Supersport United.
Mamelodi Sundowns walked away with the R10 million in prize money. In addition, Sundowns also won Absa Premiership Quarter 1, 3 and 4 — a total of R4,5 million.
The Premiership trophy together with Q3 & 4 prize money will be handed over to Mamelodi Sundowns, also known as the Brazilians or Bafana ba Style of Kabo Yellow, at their last fixture of the 2013/14 season on Saturday at the Harry Gwala Stadium.
“There is no secret about the bonus structure at Sundowns. They will be handsomely rewarded for winning the league,” a club official told Kick Off on Sunday.
For Malajila (28) it was signing off a debut season with the third goal that put the icing on the cake for Pitso Mosimane, who rumbled on and on, on Tuesday night about the presence of the former Chapungu striker and Warriors legend Ndlovu.
Ndlovu (41) is now the team manager at Sundowns while Nyandoro has completed a decade with Sundowns. Malajila and Billiat arrived from Maritzburg United and Ajax Cape Town at the start of the season.
From this Zimbabwean quartet, Nyandoro (34) is the most decorated of them all. He won the league title with AmaZulu in Zimbabwe in 2003, moved to the Brazilians the following season and was named the Jet Rookie of the Year on his debut season.
He won his first league title in 2005/6, the second the following season and Tuesday’s was his third, in addition to a host of monthly club awards. He also bagged the Charity Spectacular in 2004 — the same year Ndlovu joined him from the United Kingdom, 2005 and 2006.
Nyandoro also won the then SAA Supa8 in 2007 and the Nedbank Cup in 2008.
For Malajila and Billiat (24) on August 19, this is the first league title. Speaking after the win, Mosimane said the changes in both playing personnel and management team was the reason behind Sundowns’ success.
“At the end of last season I told you that I need to get players who can finish and score goals because our challenge was not defending goals but our challenge was to finish goals. We went out to get players who we think can finish and tonight [Tuesday night] we brought in players who can finish and score and the rest was history.
“It was difficult for me. I sat down with the president and I said to him we need to make lot of changes. I gave the vision to the board. The challenge was that coach, are we gonna bring in many players again?
“You know the story of Sundowns buying and buying . . . Sundowns buying all the time. I said I don’t know before who was buying and what he was buying. If you entrust me with these things and trust me, I must make changes. We needed a different crop of players to win the league.
“We had to make 13 changes and we brought in 13 players. We had to let others go. We needed the changes. I wouldn’t go the way things happened in the past seven years and I had support from the board.” He added: “I am surrounded by the right people. Mike Ntombela has been here. He is a legend and I played with him. Ndlovu has played 15 years in the English Premier League and knows how to do these things. Trott [Moloto] knows the politics in the club.
“You can’t just bring in a new broom to sweep, you need to keep the generals around. Barnes has been here before and won the league title. I also needed the support of someone who understand the local league and extensive knowledge and we brought in Manqoba Mngqithi,” Mosimane told the South Africa media.
Mosimane became the first black coach to win the Premiership since the formation of the Premier Soccer League in 1996, and the first since Stan “Screamer” Tshabalala in 1990, who lifted the trophy, also with Sundowns
And this is what the Sundowns official website had to say: “The partying started in the grandstand. The fans smelt the trophy and the championship.
And when the final whistle went, they invaded the pitch in excitement. Sundowns had broken the seven year trophy drought. Townships around Tshwane came alive with parties that went on through the night.”