The curtain will officially close on the 2017/18 PSL season next Tuesday, when the league’s top performers will be recognised for their efforts across the campaign at the always-glamorous PSL Awards ceremony at the Sandton Convention Centre.
Over the past week, KickOff.com has been analysing the nominees in each major category, giving an overview of their season and the merits for their nomination.
Next up, we analyse the three contenders for the Nedbank Cup Player of the Tournament award in Andrea Fileccia, Lebohang Maboe and Thela Ngobeni.
The focal point of Maritzburg United’s attack, Fileccia showed his ability to adapt to various formations while still remaining consistent in front of goal in helping his club reach a cup final for the first time in their history. The Belgian striker opened his tournament account with a brace in a 3-1 victory over FC Swallows in the Last 32, before adding another in what proved to be the winner in a 2-1 quarter-final victory over Bloemfonteic Celtic. Featuring in four of his side’s five games in the tournament, Fileccia ended as the tournament’s top scorer, yet despite coming agonisingly close to finding the back of the net in the final, could not add to his three-goal haul as the Team of Choice went down 1-0 to Free State Stars in Cape Town.
The 23-year-old enjoyed a stellar campaign with the eventual beaten finalists, playing every single minute of the campaign as Maritzburg punched above their weight to reach the first top-flight cup final in their history. The attacking talent, utilised on either wing or as a midfielder, showed maturity beyond his years in propelling his side forward, his pace and deft touches a joy to watch in the Maritzburg attack. Maboe was a game-changer in the quarter-finals, where he bagged both a goal and assist in his side’s 2-1 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic, before netting the equaliser in the club’s memorable 3-1 semi-final win over giants Mamelodi Sundowns. Despite a strong showing in the final, the midfielder – who has been included in Stuart Baxter’s final Cosafa Cup squad – could not emulate his father Sidwell’s BP Top 8 and the Bob Save Super Bowl triumphs with Orlando Pirates as Maritzburg came up short against Free State Stars.
Despite being second choice in the league, Ngobeni made the most of his opportunity between the sticks in the Nedbank Cup, putting out a number of fine displays in helping Free State Stars lift their first top-flight trophy in 24 years. Starting every game of the club’s successful campaign, the on-loan Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper let just two goals slip in his first two games against Super Eagles and Chippa United respectively, before his heroics in the quarter-final against surprise National First Division package Ubuntu Cape Town, making two brilliant saves in the final stages of their 1-1 draw before denying both Duncan Adonis and Dillion Goss from the spot in Stars’ penalty shoot-out win. He then shut out Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-final before keeping another clean sheet in a solid showing in the final to help Ea Lla Koto to victory at Cape Town Stadium.
Who do you feel is most deserving of the Nedbank Cup Player of the Tournament award?