Who have been the leading strikers since the formation of the Premier Soccer league?
Domestic football has been blessed with great strikers with natural scoring ability, who provided great potency in the opposition’s penalty box. KICK OFF’s Lovemore Moyo compiles our list of the Top 10 forwards that have graced the domestic scene since the start of the Premier Soccer League in the 1996/97 season.
1 Daniel Mudau Starts/goals: 260/110
‘Mambush’ was a busy forward whose game revolved around his pace and scoring goals. By the time the PSL came into life he was already an established forward with his break into topflight football having come back in 1992.
He played in the PSL from age 28 onwards but still scored at an average of 2.36 games per goal, after having slammed another 70 in the NSL era.
He was slow off the mark into his PSL career but then after turning 30 his scoring numbers for the next four seasons read 26, 21, 23 and 17, proving how much of a serial scorer he was, even into his 30s.
Though relatively tiny in build, he compensated his lack of physique with commitment that is yet to be matched in the domestic game to date. Mudau played for all his career in domestic football retiring during the 2004/05 season after making just three appearances. He scored the goals that won Sundowns the league in three seasons, as well as the BOB Save Super Bowl and Rothmans Cup.
2 Wilfred Mugeyi Starts/goals: 199/91
The ‘Silver Fox’ arrived at Umtata Bush Bucks in 1993 after having won the league the previous year with Black Aces back home in Zimbabwe.
His total of 113 goals (including goals scored pre-PSL) for Bush Bucks is an all-time record for the club, and he netted 27 goals in the 27 games in all competitions in the inaugural PSL season, walking away as the league’s top scorer, PSL Footballer of the Season and the Players’ Player of the Season.
He then scored eight in 19 starts the next year before leaving for China. Upon his return he was already 30, but managed 35 goals in 99 starts through the three-and-a-half years that he spent back in the Eastern Cape.
When Bush Bucks was relegated in 2003, he joined Ajax Cape Town, scoring 13 goals
before leaving for Free State Stars 18 months later, where he added another five as Ea Lla Koto were also relegated.
For a man who was already 27 when the PSL started, his return of 91 goals in 199 starts still hands him a return of a goal in every 2.19 games.
“What made me score goals was down to confidence, which all starts with working hard at training. At Bush Bucks I used to have competition with Brandon Augustine.
For instance, if we were doing shooting at training, we would have a competition to determine who scored more goals and that is where you build your confidence. Then come weekend the confidence is high, and you are looking to do what you were doing at training. Secondly, being at the right place at the right time, which comes from timing your runs. Thirdly, it is composure because you need to be calm in the box. You know that they say, ‘if you don’t shoot then you don’t score’. It is all about hitting the target. If the keeper saves then so be it because he is doing his job but as a striker you need to hit the target because anything can happen,” explains Mugeyi.
3 Pollen Ndlanya Starts/goals: 121/68
‘ Trompies’ played for Kaizer Chiefs and Manning Rangers in the pre-PSL era and had already been back with AmaKhosi for over two years in August 1996 before the start of the PSL. When he left for Turkish club Bursaspor just past the halfway mark of the 1996/97 season he had already scored 10, and then upon his return to Chiefs after battling in Turkey, he smashed 29 in all competitions in the 1998/99 season.
He then returned to Turkey but this time for Goztepe, but shortly afterwards came back and scored six goals in nine games for AmaZulu in their failed bid to stay up in the 1999/2000 season.
After turning 30 five months into the new millennium, he joined Orlando Pirates, scoring 16 in his first year before adding seven in his last season.
Ndlanya’s has an impressive return of 1.78 games per goal. Through the PSL era he won the Rothmans Cup at Chiefs and then added the league and BP Top 8 at Pirates.
“With me it was all down to being pushed by the nature of competition that I faced. When you compete against the best strikers like Mambush, the late Chesa Mpama [Denis Lota] and Jerry [Sikhosana], it means you are up against the best and I wanted to be the best. That would then encourage me to score goals consistently, which is why I went overseas,” says Ndlanya.
4 Raphael Chukwu Starts/goals: 124/63
Chukwu was feared by defenders during his prime because he was forceful and able to score goals from different situations at Mamelodi Sundowns.
He first arrived at The Brazilians in the months leading to the start of the PSL, and the ‘Chukwu Train’ managed double figures for the first three seasons.
After a year struggling at Italian club Bari, he came back on loan and was again in double figures after scoring 14.
He returned for a third spell in 2002/03, but the goals were drying up as he added just two more in seven starts.
He again left for Europe, this time Turkey and Çaykur Rizespor, and came back for one last dance in the 2004/05 season, which didn’t produce much as he battled injuries closing in on his 30th birthday.
In the end the Nigerian forward averaged 1.97 games per goal through his four spells with Sundowns, where he won the league and BOB Save Super Bowl. He was voted the PSL Player of the Year, joint Players’ Player of the Year and KICKOFF Footballer of the Year in the 1997/98 season.
What makes Tico-Tico’s case special is that he scored most of his goals not playing for any of the traditional giants but rather a team with a small budget like Jomo Cosmos.
The Mozambican has scored the most goals for a South African club of all foreignborn players to ever feature in the PSL, and averaged a goal in every 2.70 games that he started.
Tico-Tico was a regular starter at Cosmos and went into double figures in the first three PSL seasons, and while he also had stints in China and the USA, his record shows that he reached double figures in seven of the first eight full seasons that he spent in the PSL, winning the Coca-Cola Cup and SAA Supa8 Cup.
His has proven a wonderful personality as well and remains Mozambique’s most capped player and record goal scorer.
“At Cosmos we were a team that always had to dig deep for results but luckily for me Bra J [Jomo Sono] gave me all the confidence that I needed,” he said.
“Bra J was smart because he always knew how to keep me delivering through all the years that I spent at Cosmos. Maybe the plus was that Cosmos was a team that played in a way that suited me, which is why I was able to score so many goals.
“What shouldn’t be forgotten was that there were always other quality strikers that I played with like Nuro [Amiro Tualibudine], [Nkosinathi] Nhleko, Benjani [Mwaruwari], Esau [Kanyenda], Russell [Mwafulirwa] and others who all contributed to the goals that I scored,” says the retired forward.
6 Siyabonga Nomvethe Starts/goals: 267/123
Such was Nomvethe’s efficiency and longevity in the game that his 123 goals came despite spending seven-and-a-half years of his career playing in Europe.
‘Bhele’ was a hit in his debut season of 1997/98, smashing 11 goals for African Wanderers, which led to the move to Kaizer Chiefs, where he spent three years.
After a slow start with eight goals in his injury-disturbed first year, he then struck 20 in all competitions in his second during a campaign in which he fought it out with Daniel Mudau and Dennis Lota in the scoring charts.
In his last season before leaving for Italy, he scored 18, leaving a lasting impression at Naturena where he also won silverware with the club.
On his return from Europe, he had a brief spell with Orlando Pirates, but it was with Moroka Swallows that he scored the most goals (58) and won the top goal scorer award.
He played for AmaZulu past his 41st birthday, and overall averaged 2.17 games per goal.
7 Denis Lota Starts/goals: 175/74
The late Zambian forward was a poacher who was always patient enough in waiting to make the right moves into the box and go for the kill.
Lota joined Orlando Pirates having already played extensively back home, along with having spent time at Witbank Aces and in Switzerland. He was frustratingly slow in his first season in 1998/99, scoring just four goals in 19 starts, but then once he had settled in his second year, he was the league’s top scorer with 18 goals and was again in double figures the following year as Pirates won the league and BP Top 8.
He then strangely moved to play in the First Division for Dangerous Darkies and City Sharks, but was then back in the PSL with Moroka Swallows at the start of the 2003/04 season.
He went into double figures (14) again in his first season in the Birds’ Nest as they won the ABSA Cup. The following year he again got into double figures but then again went to play in lower divisions with Raiders and FC AK.
Next up was a move to AmaZulu where he helped them avoid the drop after joining during the second half of the 2006/07 season. Lota stayed on into the next campaign, but struggled with injuries before bowing out.
In the PSL he had an average of 2,36 games started per goal.
“I rated Dennis highly because I played with him at Pirates. He was so calm in the way he played that when he scored his goals, he just picked the spot instead of killing the keeper. He was a clever striker who knew how to position himself. He was a quiet character who understood the game,” says Pollen Ndlanya.
Mabhuti Khenyeza Starts/goals: 281/110
Khenyeza played all his career for local clubs, starting at Lamontville Golden Arrows in 2002, where he later had another spell, before stints with Kaizer Chiefs, Ajax Cape Town (twice), Mamelodi Sundowns, SuperSport United, Mpumalanga Black Aces and AmaZulu, where he retired last year.
He had his share of discipline-related matters and controversy as well at most clubs that he played for, but you could never doubt his passion and application, which is why he lasted 17 seasons in the game.
He won the Telkom Knockout twice, the Nedbank Cup, and scored 23 goals in all competitions during the 2008/09 season. He started 281 games through his career and averaged 2.55 games per goal.
Khenyeza was the kind of forward who specialised in harassing opponents.
Collins Mbesuma Starts/goals: 223/102
What ‘Ntofontofo’ did during the remarkable season 15 years ago might just never be repeated again.
A return of 35 goals in all competitions sounds way too incredible for domestic football standards where strikers struggle to reach double figures. Mbesuma didn’t play much in the 2003/04 season when he made his debut, ending with two goals in four starts due to injuries.
The following season he sent warnings about how deadly he is as early as the first game when he scored a hat-trick against Dynamos and by the time the season ended he had 35 in all competitions, winning the Golden Boot and PSL’s Player of the Year, while Chiefs were league and Coca-Cola Cup champions.
He then left for Europe with 37 goals in 46 starts for Chiefs but four years later he was back in the PSL playing for Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows, Golden Arrows, Orlando Pirates, Mpumalanga Black Aces and Highlands Park.
He won the Golden Boot again four years ago and was an African champion with Zambia in 2012.
He averages 2.19 games per goal in the PSL and is still scoring the goals in the GladAfrica Championship, playing for
University of Pretoria after having done duty for Maccabi FC the previous year.
Knowledge Musona Starts/goals: 74/44
‘Knodgy’ was an unknown teenager to most when he was signed by Kaizer Chiefs from Zimbabwe in June 2009.
The pessimists were quick to raise their voices in asking why Chiefs would sign an untested youngster who hadn’t even played topflight football in his home country.
Musona was quick to silence his doubters though, scoring on debut and going on to reach 28 goals in 49 starts within two years, including 20 in his second year.
As he celebrated his 21st birthday, Chiefs and the PSL had shrunk into a smaller stage for his talents and he headed to the German Bundesliga. He came back to Chiefs on loan and netted 16 in 25 starts before heading back to Europe, where he has been ever since.
An average of a goal every 1.68 games achieved at Chiefs is made all the more sweet by the fact that it was all before he turned 24.
During his time at the club, Musona who won the Telkom Knockout twice with Chiefs.