New kids are on the ball

The Absa Premier­ship sea­son is fast ap­proach­ing its half­way mark. Ti­mothy Molobi re­caps the jour­ney so far

CityPress - - Sport -

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

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