Vet­eran Onyango just keeps go­ing


The Citizen (KZN) - - Latest News - Michael­son Gumede

De­nis Onyango is one of the five Mamelodi Sun­downs play­ers who have been ever-present since head coach Pitso Mosi­mane as­sumed the role in De­cem­ber 2012. Onyango has en­joyed a lot of suc­cess as the num­ber-one shot stopper at the club and he re­cently added an­other gold medal, mak­ing it nine ti­tles un­der Mosi­mane as the Brazil­ians clinched the Telkom Knock­out ti­tle on Satur­day in Dur­ban.

The Sun­downs men­tor and Onyango share a spe­cial re­la­tion­ship and Mosi­mane is al­ways singing the praises of the Ugan­dan in­ter­na­tional, trust­ing him with all of the big games. Like­wise, Onyango is quite fond of the former Bafana Bafana coach and he at­tributes their shared suc­cess to Mosi­mane’s tough love na­ture.

“It is a great feel­ing to have a coach who un­der­stands the play­ers and we un­der­stand him. He can be a lit­tle bit harsh on the play­ers but if you are not hard on the play­ers they will not work hard or do what you want. He is a guy who al­ways keeps us on our toes and we want to win as many ti­tles as we can be­cause we play for a win all the time,” said Onyango.

“As much as he trusts me I need to al­ways give him con­fi­dence in me and I need to make sure that I help the team and do as much as I can. Some­times it does not work out but when he be­lieves in me I must show the team that I am a leader and I must pro­duce the best all the time,” he added.

Now at 34-years-old and ar­guably near­ing the de­cline stage of his ca­reer, Onyango says part of his game now in­cludes men­tor­ing the young­sters that Mosi­mane has pro­moted from the Mul­ti­choice Diski Chal­lenge this sea­son.

“The coach be­lieves in a lot of play­ers and he gave the young­ster Sphelele Mkhulise a chance in the fi­nal with a lot of pres­sure so he be­lieves in the young­sters but we also need the ex­pe­ri­ence of the se­nior play­ers to come through and help them de­velop be­cause we were also helped at one stage. Part of my re­spon­si­bil­ity as a se­nior player is to help the young­sters so that they can do bet­ter.”

The Ugan­dan in­ter­na­tional has had a cou­ple of hor­ror and costly mis­takes this sea­son, which Mosi­mane al­ways jok­ingly says he has a bud­get for. Onyango, mean­while, says he does not have time to sulk over his glar­ing mis­takes such as the one where the ball sneaked into the back of the net through his legs in a loss against Golden Ar­rows last month.

“First of all I need to un­der­stand that in the game of foot­ball there are mis­takes and we can all make those mis­takes if I don’t bounce back from them as a player it means I am dig­ging a hole for my­self so I need to fo­cus on what is com­ing next and let it go then I move on. As a player, I have learnt that no one is go­ing to feel sorry for you un­less if work hard and give your best,” said Onyango who is look­ing to get into Africa’s best eleven again.

“I need to work hard and try to do well with the club but at the same time we are run­ning a very dif­fi­cult sched­ule and you can­not fo­cus only on the in­di­vid­ual side, you need to fo­cus on both the team and your­self which some­times can be dif­fi­cult but if we win the Cham­pi­ons League and the league maybe it will work out but for now we keep work­ing hard.”

Goal­keep­ers usu­ally have longer ca­reers than out­field play­ers and they are be­lieved to age like fine wine. Onyango ad­mits that he might have to leave Sun­downs at some point but wher­ever his next des­ti­na­tion is, he is not plan­ning on slow­ing down.

“Def­i­nitely not be­cause as long as I am still around and play­ing in a top club I be­lieve that I can win more. I still have the hunger in­side me and also in­spire young­sters and make them be­lieve that if you be­lieve in your­self and your abil­i­ties you can do well.”

As it stands, Onyango has won more league ti­tles than any other goal­keeper in the league and if Masan­dawana man­age to de­fend the Absa Pre­mier­ship, Onyango, along with Sun­downs cap­tain Hlom­pho

Kekana will over­take Dane Klate to seven league ti­tles. But first, Sun­downs will need to nar­row down Kaizer Chiefs’ lead at the top – some­thing they did do a cou­ple of sea­sons ago.

“I have seen this be­fore, there was a time where they were lead­ing us by more than 10 points and then we came from be­hind and we grabbed it. This is a marathon and not a sprint.”

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