With the Absa Premiership currently in hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, SoccerClub writer DEAN WORKMAN picks five players who could be competing for the footballer of the season accolade if and when the league resumes.
The Premier Soccer League, along with countless leagues across the world, was forced to postpone the season to try to stop the spread of the highly infectious Covid-19 pandemic.
The league was forced to stop just on entering the business end of the season, with Kaizer Chiefs four points clear of second placed Mamelodi Sundowns with nine games left to play, although the Brazilians still had a game in hand on the log leaders.
Sundowns, who won the Telkom Knockout earlier in the season, also remain in the hunt for the Nedbank Cup and a potential domestic treble, while Chiefs were looking to finally end their painful trophy drought.
With the unknown scenario surrounding world football it remains to be seen if the current campaign will be concluded, but if it does there are a number of players who will be eyeing a strong finish to the season to put their names among the contenders for the footballer of the season gong.
1) Lebogang Manyama
The attacking midfielder endured a difficult first campaign at Chiefs last year but has returned with some swagger this campaign as he has been one of the driving forces behind the Amakhosi this season. The 29 year-old has amassed six goals and eight assists in his 21 league appearances so far this season, but has proved a constant threat through his set-piece delivery and crosses which the Chiefs forward line has thrived on.
Manyama picked up the award a few seasons ago while playing for Cape Town City and he will undoubtedly be hoping for his second footballer of the season award, but this time while wearing black and gold.
2) Samir Nurkovic
The forward hit the ground running following his move to Chiefs from Serbia at the beginning of the season. The burley striker, playing in tandem with Leonardo Castro, has proved a handful for defenders in the PSL to handle as his physical prowess and aerial ability have had him score 11 league goals and grab three assists in just 19 appearances.
Chiefs’ style of play has been hugely focused on the strengths of their strikers and if Nurkovic is able to fire Chiefs to their first trophy since 2014, he will surely be in the running for the league’s top individual prize.
3) Gabadinho Mhango
The forward joined Orlando Pirates from Bidvest Wits amid a lot of excitement but initially struggled to find his top form with the departure of Milutin Sredojevic. The 27-year-old, though, started finding his feet under interim coach Rhulani Mokwena before completely exploding under new boss Josef Zinnbauer as Mhango shot to the top of the scoring charts with a brilliant run of form.
As matters stand, the Malawian leads the golden boot race with 14 goals in his 21 games and will no doubt be aiming to add more to his tally when the league resumes.
Should his goals also help the Sea Robbers finish high up the table, which looked unlikely after Sredojevic’s departure, Mhango will surely be in the conversation for footballer of the season.
4) Themba Zwane
The mercurial Sundowns attacker has yet again shown his class this season and has again been one of the most influential players in Pitso Mosimane’s team.
With Sundowns fighting on multiple fronts, Mosimane has been forced to rotate his squad, despite the need to rotate Zwane has been one of the constants and has only missed out through injury or suspension.
Having only played 16 games in the league, a significantly smaller number than other contenders, Zwane has managed to score an impressive nine goals while also picking up five assists.
Should Sundowns go on to retain their title with a final push when the season resumes, you can bet that Zwane will have a major say and could finally win the footballer of the season award.
5) Richard Ofori
Goalkeepers are not often considered for these types of awards and are usually forced to settle for the best goalkeeper awards, but Ofori’s impact at Maritzburg has been so big it’s hard not to think of him when debating the contenders for footballer of the season.
The Ghanaian shotstopper has kept 10 clean sheets, conceding just 17 goals in his 22 games as he has helped Maritzburg United sit in the top five on the league table.
He has received a lot of attention from the likes of Pirates and Sundowns due to his fine form and could very well be among the contenders for footballer of the season.
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