New kids are on the ball
The Absa Premiership season is fast approaching its halfway mark. Timothy Molobi recaps the journey so far
Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits look unstoppable this season and seem certain to contest the title at the end. On the other hand, Orlando Pirates seem to plumb new depths every week, as they find themselves slipping down the log – they’re at the 13th spot. Youngsters lead the way
The season might still be far from over, but there are a few players who have caught the eye with their displays on the pitch. At the top of the list in the first half of the stop-go season were youngsters Keagan Dolly and Phakamani Mahlambi.
The duo’s exploits have not gone unnoticed as they took their skills to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Senegal, where they helped the national Under-23 team book a place in the Rio Olympic Games next year.
Dolly, in particular, has been so impressive at his new club, Mamelodi Sundowns, that he has helped them win the Telkom Knockout gold medal.
The 22-year-old has been a revelation since rejoining the Brazilians from Ajax Cape Town. Many expected the Westbury-born star to struggle in a star-studded Downs team, but he has featured regularly in coach Pitso Mosimane’s side.
The Brazilians went into the Christmas break on top of the log, and this is largely due to Dolly’s exploits on the pitch.
Meanwhile, Mahlambi (18) has taken to the Wits senior team like a duck to water as he helped the Clever Boys to second spot on the log. The striker has also featured regularly in Gavin Hunt’s side and many believe he might soon be lost to the domestic league if he continues with his form. Surprise packages
Veteran striker Collins Mbesuma, who has already scooped the player of the month award, seems to have rediscovered his old scoring form.
The 2004/05 Premiership top scorer, who went off the radar for a while after leaving Kaizer Chiefs, has been the driving force behind Mpumalanga Black Aces’ good run in the 12 games they have played. Aces are now sitting third on the log.
Credit must also go to coach Muhsin Ertuğral, who showed confidence in the Zambian international, and the bulky striker has rewarded him with seven league goals.
Mosimane has also survived the storm at Sundowns after a section of the team’s fickle supporters called for his removal. He has turned things around as the Brazilians are the team to beat. Coaching revolving door
What will a season be without the merry-go-round of coaches? This campaign has not been exceptional, as about 40% of the 16 teams have already parted ways with their coaches. Free State Stars are the latest side to lose their mentor – their second in the season – after coach Ernst Middendorp cited a lack of PSL material at the club. Interestingly, the German coach replaced Kinnah Phiri, who was the first casualty of the season after overseeing only three games.
Maritzburg United have also lost two coaches so far after the departure of veteran mentor Clive Barker, who replaced Mandla Ncikazi earlier in the season. United are languishing at the bottom of the log, with just one league victory to show for their efforts in 12 matches. Chippa at it again
The season will not be complete without the drama at Chippa United. As has become the norm, the love-hate relationship with coach Roger Sikhakhane continued afresh this season. He has been put on special leave for misconduct and Dan Malesela is holding the fort in his absence.
NEW SENSATION Keagan Dolly has been a revelation at Mamelodi Sundowns OUT IN THE COLD Roger Sikhakhane has been put on special leave