Johannesburg — Mamelodi Sundowns featured in their first Carling Black Label Cup on Saturday at the FNB Stadium, leaving an imprint to be remembered for years to come.
The Brazilians started up the day with a 3-0 annihilation of AmaZulu in the first semi-final before moving on to thump Orlando Pirates 4-0 in the decider and claimed yet another piece of silverware, the 'Beer Cup'.
Prior to the commencement of the 2022/23 DStv Premiership, a lot of discussions revolved around attempts at dethroning a Sundowns side that has ruled the land for nearly a decade now.
The Buccaneers went international and captured the signature of Spaniard Jose Riviero in an effort to restore Pirates to their former glory.
While their Soweto neighbours Kaizer Chiefs, along with AmaZulu, went the radical route, replacing approximately 50% of their squad from the previous year in an attempt to challenge Sundowns’ stranglehold on domestic football.
It appeared as if the tide had turned when the Sea Robbers romped past KaboYellow on their way to the MTN8 title, leading to changes to Sundowns' technical team.
A meeting between the two sides just two weeks later seemed perfectly poised for a tight battle for the ages, Sundowns, however, had a different idea.
The Chloorkop-based side's dominance has always been fundamentally based on the style they use to put teams to the sword and the Black Label Cup was no different.
Coach Rulani Mokwena's men handed 'title pretenders' Pirates, Chiefs and AmaZulu a harsh reminder of the kind of bite they’ll come up against after the World Cup recess.
In the three games that were played, seven goals were scored from open play and all of them were scored by Sundowns, who also kept two clean sheets.
Sundowns also cued one of their biggest advantages in the second match, swapping out Bafana Bafana captain Ronwen Williams for the expertise of once-CAF Goalkeeper of the Year Dennis Onyango.
If that didn't show of strength in depth didn’t worry the rest of the league then the emergence of Sundowns academy graduate Cassius Mailula to score three goals in the two matches surely did.
The 21-year-old's recent success signals a sustainable model of development not only steadied by financial muscle but also by development structures to keep feeding the team for decades.
The Buccaneers may have drawn first blood this season in terms of trophy success but there are three more gold medals to play for and it is safe to say Sundowns are still the biggest dogs in the yard.