The Mozambique playmaker, now looking to help Wits claim their first ever league title, was part of the Mamelodi Sundowns team that caught and toppled Chiefs, who had built a 10-point lead halfway through the 2013/14 season, to be crowned champions.
Pelembe emerged from being a bit-part player into an unsung hero as the Brazilians grabbed their sixth Premier League title. It is that bit of history that gives him the belief that second-placed Wits, and perhaps even Amakhosi, who are a spot below, are still in with a shout to hoist the trophy instead of - coincidentally - log leaders Sundowns.
“I can’t say a lot about Sundowns because I am a Wits player now, but the difference is that they have been a little bit more consistent than us,” said Pelembe. “But we have also been fighting for this consistency and I think we will keep trying until we reach the end of the season.”
The Clever Boys trail Sundowns by 10 with a game in hand, one against a Polokwane City side they completely annihilated in a 5-0 thrashing two months ago. Chiefs have a tougher assignment following a narrow 2-1 defeat to Dikwena in the corresponding fixture in January. Pelembe is convinced that Pitso Mosimane’s men, although it would take some capitulation, can still slip up.
“I think so,” the Wits talisman said confidently. “When I won the league with them (Sundowns), Chiefs were 11 points ahead and we never gave up. We just decided to focus on our games and said we should win those. And that is exactly what happened. It’s the same thing we need to do here (at Wits), to look at ourselves. We are still going to play them and we have nine games to go in the league.”
But Ted Dumitru doesn’t give Wits or Chiefs a chance in catching the Brazilians, who are on an 18-game unbeaten run in the league. He is qualified to speak having won two Premier League titles with Sundowns in 1998 and 1999, then repeating that same feat with Amakhosi in 2004 as well as 2005.
“It looks doable, but let me remind you that our teams over the years have failed in terms of consistency, and that is the case this season. I mean no disrespect, but the standard at Sundowns is much higher because they are able to buy everyone. It’s the result of a R48-million investment that sees them dominate domestic football.”
How was he able to cut down Pirates’ seven-point lead to win the championship with Chiefs in 2005? The Buccaneers, under Kosta Papic, had also enjoyed a 17-game unbeaten run, which was a record in the PSL era at the time, only to miss out on the title by two points on the final day to a Chiefs team with striker Collins Mbesuma, who scored a record 25 goals that season.
“I believe back then the top teams were equally matched to an extent. And there was so much consistency. So, even though we were involved in a CAF competition, we were still able to win the games in hand to catch Pirates and win the league. I don’t think that is going to happen this season.” - The Star
Original source: PSL title race not yet over