The Incumbent: Denis Onyango (33 years old)
In the Ugandan’s first two seasons at Mamelodi Sundowns, he played only one match and spent his third season out on loan at Bidvest Wits, where he barely featured. He made just four league appearances for The Clever Boys as he played second fiddle to Moeneeb Josephs and few expected him to displace Kennedy Mweene upon his return to Masandawana. However, by halfway through the 2014/15 season, he was the club’s number one. He has not looked back since, leading Downs to two league titles and the 2016 CAF Champions League crown, and was named the 2017 CAF Player of the Year for African-based players.
Last season, Onyango was as good as ever, keeping 12 clean sheets in his 25 Absa Premiership matches, and he has started this season strongly too. However, at 33 years of age, it is crucial for Downs to have a succession plan. Mweene is the same age as Onyango, whilst Thela Ngobeni has just over six months on his contract and is not highly rated aerially by Pitso Mosimane, a crucial attribute for the coach.
The Successor: Reyaad Pieterse (26 years old)
With the advancing years of Onyango and Mweene, it was crucial to sign a younger goalkeeper to start the transition to a fresher option in this area of the pitch, even if Onyango could play at a high level for a couple more years. Pieterse lost the goalkeeper battle at SuperSport United to Ronwen Williams and has not played a great deal of football since leaving Kaizer Chiefs. His Sundowns debut was marked by a bad error against AmaZulu and, unless he starts to show himself as a reliable option, it may take him a couple of seasons to win the number one jersey.
Verdict: Sundowns currently have an outstanding incumbent in Onyango, and a good, but error-prone man waiting in the wings in Pieterse. This department looks in excellent shape for coming seasons.