Team of the Season so far
Posted: 1 January 2016 Time: 14:04
KickOff.com duo Lovemore Moyo and Tiyani wa ka Mabasa have put together their PSL Team of the Season so far.
Log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, who are also the Telkom Knockout champions, have four players in the starting XI. Find out who else made the team.
GOALKEEPER: Moeneeb Josephs (Bidvest Wits)
His experience can neither be ignored or undermined as a an influential personality in providing the inspiration and wisdom in the Clever Boys’ dressing-room. There is also absolutely nothing to suggest that age is catching up with him. He will be 36 on his next birthday (19 May), but he remains as energetic as always and has shown us plenty reflexes this season. His ability to set up counter-attacks with his distribution has led to several opponents playing with their backs to the wall. In terms of League games, he kept seven clean-sheets in a row from the match against Maritzburg United on August 26 until the game against Platinum Stars on November 4.
RIGHT-BACK: Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Handed the armband this season following Alje Schut’s decision to return to Holland, ‘Rama’ has responded by reminding us that the responsibility that comes with being a captain is familiar territory for him. Though also at home playing in central defence, he has shown his quality on the right, showing the discipline to mix going up the flank yet still remaining authoritative in his primary role of keeping shape as a right-back. He’s played his part in ensuring Sundowns concede the least number of goals in the Absa Premiership – just eight in 12 League games.
LEFT-BACK: Lehlohonolo Nonyane (Mpumalanga Black Aces)
To be noticed playing in a defensive position for a ‘modest’ club like Aces surely means you have been punching well above the average standards of this League. Nonyane is a dependable left-footer who will never hesitate to show he has the bite of dealing with an opposition winger, yet still be brave enough to add numbers on the offensive when his team has the ball. At times you really wish he was younger because left-backs that combine their defensive duties with attacking flair are rare. Aces are third on the log and have conceded just 10 goals in 12 League games. The 29-year-old was also rewarded with a Bafana Bafana call-up for the two matches against Angola in 2018 World Cup qualifiers, though he didn’t play.
CENTRE-BACK: Wayne Arendse (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Arendse’s Sundowns career was considered dead and buried prior to the start of the season. However, he has responded in style to get the job done to perfection. Not fancy and not flamboyant, the 31-year-old always just gets on with getting the job done and has provided the shoulder that his central defence partner Thabo Nthethe regularly has to lean on. For a man who only started one game last season – against University of Pretoria on the last day of the season – he has proven to be courageous and left many asking why the club was stressing about the departure of Schut.
CENTRE-BACK: Abbubaker Mobara (Ajax Cape Town)
The senior national team selectors have fallen for his defensive partner Rivaldo Coetzee, but that hasn’t stopped Mobara from showing that he is just as brave a centre-back as he is capable of playing the ball. Such is the fight in him that he is never scared to get tangled up in tussles, regardless of the kind of striker he is facing. Being comfortable on the ball means he is able to get the ball moving much faster than your traditional central defender, which has given the Urban Warriors ways of varying their build-ups from the back. It was no mistake that he found his way into the national Under-23 squad. The 21-year-old also played every match as Ajax won the MTN8.
HOLDING MIDFIELDER: Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns)
Talk grit. Talk bite. Talk balancing the midfield. That is what you get from Kekana, whose growth in confidence has also meant he will get you a goal or two along the way. He has three goals to his name this season. Memories of how Esrom Nyandoro anchored that Sundowns midfield for most of the last decade are fading away because Kekana is doing that and more. His functionality has been aided by the fact that he has struck up an admirable combination with Bongani Zungu. Whenever Kekana has started getting into third gear then the rest of the Sundowns team starts operating at a high gear as is his ability to destroy, play short and long and, as witnessed this season, also get himself into the opposition box more often. He is not just a defensive midfielder who wants to win the ball and freeze but is daring enough to play and move. He’s probably one of the most underrated players in the League.
RIGHT-WING: Phakamani Mahlambi (Bidvest Wits)
There is no need to argue that Mahlambi has freshened up the PSL as it is rare to find a teenage footballer who announces his arrival the way this kid has done. To think that he is just 18 gives Wits and South Africa reason to hope, if not the best of what we have seen come out of this country in recent years in terms of an attacking player who terrorises defenders and then scores goals the way little boys do when playing at the park. We can only hope that he maintains those standards. If that goal he scored against Golden Arrows didn’t make anyone sit up and take notice then what more will get you excited about a teenager footballer in the PSL? After the Rio Olympic Games next year he might never be seen in the PSL again. He looks that good!
CENTRAL MIDFIELDER: Bongani Zungu (Mamelodi Sundowns)
To really understand how much work Zungu puts into his game you should watch him closely. If he is not closing down spaces when the opponents have the ball he is getting involved in ways of breaking down the opponent when the team has the ball. The platform offered by the domestic League is becoming smaller and you cannot blame him for feeling he needs to give it a go in Europe. Pitso Mosimane appreciates a ball player who can also be noticed and effective the moment the team loses possession. And perhaps the only negative thing to say about his game is that he has six yellow cards and one red card in just 13 appearances this season.
LEFT-WING: Daine Klate (Bidvest Wits)
How do you ignore a winger as productive as Klate? Not only will he give you crosses, he will also provide goals – and plenty of them for that matter. Klate has seven goals this season, including one in the MTN8, plus six assists. If you are thinking that maybe he is only doing the business of scoring this season then you are mistaken – he has been doing this in all the years he has played in the PSL. He is the fifth highest scoring footballer in domestic football out of all players that are attached to PSL clubs at the moment. As long as you play him in a system that is appreciative of a traditional winger then you will always get a lot out of Klate. How and why Orlando Pirates allowed him to leave so easily when they didn’t even have a proper replacement for him boggles the mind.
SHADOW STRIKER: George Lebese (Kaizer Chiefs)
Lebese had a lightning start to the season, scoring goals with such ease he would have been on double figures by now had he maintained that pace. For someone who doesn’t play as an out-and-out striker to have already scored eight goals (plus four assists) shows he has been amongst the best of what this League has to offer. Consistency is all that Lebese needs now.
STRIKER: Collins Mbesuma (Mpumalanga Black Aces)
‘Ntofontofo’ remains arguably the best finisher in the PSL and the fact that he is the leading scorer at the moment with seven League goals proves that. His potency had been long forgotten after failing to find his way in Europe, but at Aces he is sending reminders yet again that he still knows how to score. He is definitely the biggest reason why Aces have gone into 2016 in third place. His desire and attitude will determine if he would still be at the top of the scoring ranks at the end of the season as he is a very delicate character.
SUBS: Denis Onyango (Mamelodi Sundowns), Limbikani Mzava (Mpumalanga Black Aces), Siboniso Gumede (Platinum Stars), Keegan Dolly (Mamelodi Sundowns), Gladwin Shitolo (Golden Arrows), Nathan Paulse (Ajax Cape Town), Kermit Erasmus (Orlando Pirates).
HEAD COACH: Pitso Mosimane (Mamelodi Sundowns)
PLEASE NOTE: The team selected is based only on domestic football; Absa Premiership, MTN8 and Telkom Knockout.