This was an amazing, fairy tale story for a side ravaged by player withdrawals ahead of the tournament, and given little chance of success in Gabon.
It was one of Cameroon’s star players, in striker Vincent Aboubakar, who struck the decisive blow with a brilliant goal against Egypt, but this was a success built very much on team spirit. Immense credit has to go to Cameroon coach Hugo Broos for fostering such unity in difficult circumstances.
One wonders what a man like Joel Matip was thinking, presumably while watching the final on television on Sunday. Matip pulled out of the squad, opting instead to play for Liverpool. The Reds lost to Hull City on Saturday, leaving a huge dent in their challenge for the English Premier League. Was it really worth it, Joel?
With the Afcon over, the Absa Premiership can finally resume, after a completely unnecessary break that I ranted about enough in last week’s editorial.
Instead, let’s take a look at how the league looks heading into its resumption. It is SuperSport United leading the way, tied on points with Bidvest Wits and unlikely challengers Cape Town City, with Kaizer Chiefs just a point further back.
Lurking in seventh, however, are my pick to regain their trophy, Mamelodi Sundowns. Pitso Mosimane’s Brazilians currently sit just six points behind SuperSport, Wits and City, with five games in hand on SuperSport, four in hand on Wits, and six in hand on City and Chiefs. The simple conclusion to draw from this is that no side showed enough consistency in the first part of the season to take the chance to pull away from Sundowns, while Masandawana were preoccupied with the Caf Champions League and the Fifa Club World Cup.
Now the best squad in the land – I don’t think there can be much debate about this – have the chance to reel everyone in during the next few months and then leave them trailing in their wake.
Sundowns have lost Keagan Dolly to Montpellier and that will surely be a blow, but they have the depth to cope and it is hard for me to look beyond a Sundowns procession unless Wits, Chiefs or SuperSport can tighten up their act.
Amakhosi and Wits certainly have a chance to lay down a marker in tonight’s games and we hear from Itumeleng Khune about his team’s determination to improve.
We also hear from Sundowns’ Tiyani Mabunda and SuperSport United’s new recruit Mandla Masango. If Masango can rediscover the form he showed for Chiefs under Stuart Baxter, Matsatsantsa fans are in for a treat.
At the other end of the table, meanwhile, there should be an intense battle for Premiership survival. Highlands Park are one side right in the mire, though one expects a coach with the wisdom of Gordon Igesund to pull them out of it.
We interview Highlands goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini in our regular One-on-One feature, a man who has had his fair share of relegation scraps. Also don’t miss our Player-of-the-Month competition, for your chance to win R350 in airtime.
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