Johannesburg (AFP) – Peter Shalulile scored a hat-trick as Mamelodi Sundowns moved within 10 points of a record fifth consecutive South African Premiership title by winning 4-2 at Swallows on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old Namibian scored twice in five minutes to give the Pretoria side an early two-goal advantage over their lowly Soweto opponents.
When Swallows scored a minute from time and cut the deficit to just one goal, Shalulile immediately responded by scoring a rebound to put the result beyond doubt.
He has scored 18 Premiership goals this season – four more than closest rival Vincent Letsoalo of Royal AM – and 24 in all competitions.
“Success at Sundowns is about brotherhood – we always help each other,” said Shalulile after scoring his first hat-trick of the 2021-22 campaign.
“Swallows may be second to last on the board, but this was never going to be a walk in the park. They never gave up and threatened to snatch a draw until I finished my hat trick.
“We treated them with the same respect as any other opponent. Our preparations were thorough, analyzing every aspect of Swallows. We noted where they were strong and weak and planned accordingly.
Sundowns lead second-placed Royal AM by 11 points and 10 of their remaining six matches will ensure the trophy remains in the boardroom where it has been on display since mid-2018.
They will face Golden Arrows and Cape Town City at home and Sekhukhune United away before a potential title clash with Kaizer Chiefs in Soweto on May 8.
Sundowns’ widest winning margin is 14 points in 2016 and co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi says that’s a mark they hope to improve on this season.
The club are aiming for a ‘quadruple’ at home and abroad – a feat that a club owned by Confederation of African Football (CAF) president Patrice Motsepe has not achieved in the past.
They won the MTN 8, a knockout competition for the top eight of the previous Premiership, at the start of this season and reached the quarter-finals of the Nedbank (FA) Cup.
But what Sundowns dream of most is winning the CAF Champions League for a second time after beating Egypt’s Zamalek in the title-clinching game in 2016.
Sundowns will face Angolan side Petro Atletico in the quarter-finals this month and, if successful, will meet Algeria’s Chabab Belouizdad or Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca in May for a place in the final.
While the South Africans are expected to overcome Petro, likely semi-final opponents Wydad have been a bogey for Sundowns, winning four and drawing two of the previous eight Champions League encounters.