Uganda Cranes goalkeeper Dennis Onyango is not arrogant, just confident. He is not aggressive, just forthright - unless, of course, you are striker charging at him. The Mamelodi Sundowns no.1 believes so much in his abilities it’s inspiring. The other man that admirably believes in Onyango’s abilities is his coach Pitso Mosimane.
Mosimane maintains Onyango – a one-time Africa Player of the Year (based on the continent) - is still the confederation’s undisputed between the sticks.
Actually, Onyango is so good – he has been for quite some time now – he is running other goalkeepers scared in South Africa. Mosimane was asked by the media over a week ago about his aging players and the club’s succession plans.
The Sundowns coach went about mentioning different areas on the pitch and their available understudies. On reaching Onyango, who has been at Chloorkop since 2011, there was a problem.
“To replace Onyango,” said Mosimane, “Is going to be the biggest problem for us. You can see that a lot of teams want to hold on to their goalkeepers, why should they give them to you? “And some keepers say why should they come to Sundowns and compete with Onyango? How can I compete with No.1 in Africa? People don’t want to come and compete with Onyango.”
Even for the amiable Onyango, 35 in May, those were powerful words from the man he has grown to deeply respect. “It’s a great feeling to have a coach who believes in me like that and gives me full responsibility over a team like Sundowns,” Onyango told Daily Monitor.
“But it also comes with a lot of pressure and responsibilities because now it means I have to play all the games and I must look after myself all the time and stay focused.” Onyango had encouraging words for goalkeepers reportedly avoiding Sundowns because of him. Yet, even in his reassuring words you do not need lenses to see through his competitiveness.
“Other keepers shouldn’t fear to come because they make me better and they should believe in themselves,” advised the former SC Villa goalkeeper.
“Nothing in life is given free. You have to work for it and there is no space for comfort zone. So if they are scared it means they like being in the comfort zone other than competing.”
Having joined Masandawana nine years ago, Onyango has three league titles to his name, the Caf Champions League and Caf Super Cup trophies.
He was also named Africa’s no.1 (based in Africa) in the same year he won the 2016 continental gongs. Around the same time he was also named in Caf X1, and claimed the PSL Goalkeeper of the season.
For his immense contribution, Onyango was handed a new four-and-a-half-year contract extension in February 2019, which will keep him at Sundowns until 2023.
Onyango AT a glance
Full Name: Denis Masinde Onyango
Height: 6ft 2in
Early career: Sharing, Nsambya
2004-2005: SC Villa
2005-2006: St. George SA
2006-2010: Supersport United
2010-2011: Mpumalanga Black Aces
2011-2013: Mamelodi Sundowns
2013-2014: Bidvest Wits (loan)
2014- To date: Mamelodi Sundowns
2016 Caf Champions League winner
2016 Africa Player of the Year based
on the continent
2017 Caf Super Cup winner
Named in Africa’s Best XI in 2016,
2017 and 2018
Guiding Uganda to two successive