Former Uganda Cranes’ captain and keeper Denis Masinde Onyango saved an unbelievable five penalty kicks out of seven that were sent his way to help his club Mamelodi Sundowns win the MTN8 competition on Saturday.
It was a huge reward for the team’s supporters who were attending the match the first time since the country imposed a ban on spectators watching local games due to Covid-19.
The 36-year-old Ugandan who is also the captain for his side, starred as Sundowns edged Cape Town City 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw following extra time at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
After Namibian Peter Shalulile scored to put Pretoria-based Sundowns ahead a third time in the shootout, Onyango saved from Cape Town captain Thamsanqa Mkhize to win the title decider.
“My instincts helped a lot in the shootout,” said captain Onyango after being voted man of the match. “I always thought we would win this final.
“We struggled at times against the aggression of Cape Town, but never allowed our heads to drop. It was resilience that won the trophy for us in the end,”
Two thousand spectators, fully vaccinated against coronavirus, attended the final as South Africa took a second step toward relaxing restrictions introduced in March 2020 to combat the pandemic.
Success was particularly sweet for Sundowns as they last won the MTN8 in 2007 — four years before Kampala-born Onyango joined the club after spells with two other South African outfits.
Sundowns have won 12 domestic and two Confederation of African Football (Caf) competitions since, but until Saturday the closest they came to another MTN title was finishing runners-up twice.
The competition involves the eight highest finishers after the previous league season and offers a winner-take-all prize of R8 million.
Following his incredible performance, South Africans caricatured him in numerous funny ways with some comparing him to a bird catcher while others called him a demon.