Who tops the list?
Some may have found this season disappointing, given Sundowns’ easy march to glory. But Timothy Molobi has enjoyed the run-up to this year’s award winners as he offers his pick of star contenders
Whose names should be on the Premier Soccer League’s Footballer of the Season short list on May 30? And who will succeed Tefu Mashamaite, who took top honours last year? It goes without saying that this award should reflect players’ performances over the entire season.
Jomo Cosmos boss Jomo Sono, one of the country’s most decorated former players and now a hard-to-please coach, has already indicated that his vote would go to Sundowns midfielder Khama Billiat.
“Billiat, for me, is the player of the year. He should take top honours because he has been brilliant. When you see such a player with so much talent working hard for the team, it is amazing. He works for the team, not for himself, which ultimately makes him the winner.”
There is no doubting Billiat’s sterling play in the league this season. Big players at clubs win silverware, and the Zimbabwean looks set to dominate this season’s awards.
How can anyone ignore his stunning runs, and the 10 goals he netted that helped the Brazilians win the championship? This, in addition to his pace and skill, which have kept supporters on the edges of their seats.
It is difficult to counter Sono’s songs of praise for the player: Billiat, who last week took the Absa Premiership player of the month crown, is fast, works hard, shows a terrific timing in his runs, and can finish – and miss, too.
The 25-year-old Downs star is poised to beat teammate Hlompho Kekana to the accolade, but it must be said that he had many assists this season.
Last month, Downs coach Pitso Mosimane revealed that no player had been fouled more than Billiat. The winger has bewitched a host of opposing defences during the season with his ability to provide either a killer pass or a shot at goal.
As for Kekana, his poise when in possession of the ball, and some of his long-range passing and shooting have been phenomenal. He has that eye for a pass in addition to his free-kick ability, and is one of those players who can turn the game around with just one pass.
He deserves to be on the short list because he, too, was instrumental in the Brazilians’ successful run this season.
Willard Katsande, who has had a fantastic season even though Kaizer Chiefs have been terrible, is their only player to come close to the peak performance he showed when they won the title last season.
Amakhosi’s drop of form will not have helped Katsande’s chances. He was brilliant but could not have made it on his own, given the fact that football is a team sport.
Mpumalanga Black Aces striker Collins Mbesuma is set to walk away with the top scorer award – 10 years after he first won it in the 2004/05 season. After hitting top form early in the season, the bulky Zambian marksman could not maintain his scoring prowess as he was always the target man. The outcome was that Aces ran out of steam in their challenge for the league honours. Goalkeeping is one position that rarely gets recognised when it comes to top awards, but Denis Onyango has been brilliant for Downs, and should clinch the goalkeeper of the season title. The Uganda Cranes goalkeeper has made stunning saves this season to help the Brazilians win not only the league title but also the Telkom Knockout trophy. As for Mosimane, he is tipped to garner the coach of the season award, having led Sundowns to glorious title victories.
MR RELIABLE Dennis Onyango should win the goalkeeper of the season award
NUMBER ONE Pitso Mosimane is poised to walk away with the coach of the season award