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.
This 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 in our analysis is the Midfielder of the Season category, which will this year be contested by Hlompho Kekana, Siphesihle Ndlovu and Musa Nyatama.
The Mamelodi Sundowns captain continued his ever-impressive and consistent form this season, guiding the club to yet another league title. The 33-year-old was immense in the centre of the park, bombing forward when need be while assisting in defence, all-the-while motivating and leading his troops in their quest for glory.
Featuring in 26 of the 30 matches this season, Kekana registered three goals and five assists as he lifted his third league trophy at Chloorkop, his efforts also resulting in a nomination for the prestigious Footballer of the Season prize – his third nomination for the award over the last three seasons.
Making his presence felt all over the park, Kekana averaged two shots at goal per game across the season, averaging 56 passes per 90 minutes, while at the other end of the pitch, the hard-working midfielder recorded an average of 1.7 blocks and 3.5 clearances per match.
It was a season to remember for Ndlovu, whose rip-roaring campaign made football fans across the country stand up and take notice. In just his second season with the first team, the 21-year-old was a marvel to watch, his pace, trickery and eye for goal propelling Maritzburg United to their historic fourth-place finish in the league.
Featuring in all but three of his team’s 30 league encounters, Ndlovu notched up five goals and four assists with a 17.9% conversion rate in front of goal – the fourth highest of all players in the league.
Ndlovu was the most-fouled player in the PSL, suffering 94 fouls, and found his target with 82.1% of the passes he made. His impressive campaign saw him nominated for the Absa Premiership Young Player and overall Footballer of the Season gongs as well.
In only his first season at Orlando Pirates following his off-season arrival from Bloemfontein Celtic, Nyatama slotted into the Bucs midfield with ease, immediately repaying his new employer’s efforts in recruiting him from the Free State.
Comfortable on the ball and playing with a noticeable increase in maturity and intelligence under masterful tactician Milutin Sredojevic, Nyatama blossomed as the season progressed, collecting a number of man-of-the-match awards as he closed the season as the club’s second-highest scorer with four goals, while also contributing three assists in the 28 league matches he played to help Pirates to their second-place finish.
Boasting the second-highest average number of passes per game (68.7) among all PSL players, with a final third passing accuracy of 80%, the versatile player averaged 2.4 blocks and 4.6 clearances per match, while averaging a shot on goal every 78 minutes throughout the season.
Who do you feel is most deserving of the 2017/18 PSL Midfielder of the Season award?