The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - MAZOLA MOLEFE

AS MANY pre­dicted, Cape Town City cap­tain and striker Le­bo­gang Manyama last night walked away with the big­gest in­di­vid­ual ac­co­lade at the PSL Awards when he was crowned the 2016/17 cam­paign Foot­baller of the Sea­son.

Boast­ing an im­pres­sive 29 (out of 30) Absa Premier­ship matches for City, who were sur­prise ti­tle con­tenders and fin­ished in third place be­hind win­ners Bid­vest Wits and run­ners-up Mamelodi Sun­downs, Manyama scored 13 goals and also claimed the Golden Boot.

Al­though the com­pe­ti­tion was stiff – de­fender Thu­lani Hlatshwayo of Wits and the Brazil­ians’ strong­man, Hlom­pho Kekana, were nom­i­nated along­side the Bafana for­ward – it would have been a shock had Manyama, pic­tured, not won the big­gest prize on the night hav­ing been a star per­former to help City, not only fin­ish in the top three, but also win the Telkom Knock­out in De­cem­ber.

Manyama’s peers also felt he’d had an un­be­liev­able year and voted him the Play­ers’ Player of the Sea­son, mean­ing he’d won in each cat­e­gory he was nom­i­nated in, with the ex­cep­tion of the Telkom Knock­out.

There, his team­mate Aubrey Ngoma, also the win­ner of the Premier­ship Mid­fielder of the Sea­son, re­ceived the Player of the Tour­na­ment gong.

A side that en­joyed a night just as mem­o­rable, were cham­pi­ons Wits, whose coach Gavin Hunt was voted the Coach of the Sea­son for help­ing the Clever Boys end an al­most cen­tury long drought by win­ning their first ever cham­pi­onship.

With that achieve­ment, Hunt also joined an elite club of coaches who have won the league four times in the PSL, along­side Gor­don Ige­sund and the late Ted Du­mitru. It was also the fifth time Hunt, who turns 53 to­day, ac­cepted the Coach of the Sea­son award in the Premier League era.

Adding to the in­di­vid­ual awards at Wits were goal­keeper Dar­ren Keet and cap­tain Hlatshwayo for the Goal­keeper and De­fender of the Sea­son awards, re­spec­tively. And, per­haps con­tro­ver­sially so, young Phaka­mani Mahlambi walked away with the Young Player of the Sea­son award, even though there has been a pub­lic out­cry that he per­haps did not do enough to war­rant him be­ing nom­i­nated in the first place.

Keet and Hlatshwayo, how­ever, were the main­stay of the Wits team in their race for the cham­pi­onship.

They were not nec­es­sar­ily ever present, Keet man­ag­ing 10 clean sheets in 22 matches, while ‘Tyson’ fea­tured in 24 league matches and scored three cru­cial goals.

Keet was nom­i­nated along­side Sun­downs’ De­nis Onyango and Shu-Aib Wal­ters of City, while Hlatshwayo went up against team­mate Si­fiso Hlanti and Ramahlwe Mphahlele, who both en­joyed a stel­lar de­but sea­son at Kaizer Chiefs and won the club’s Player of the Year award, but dis­ap­point­edly couldn’t help Amakhosi to win any sil­ver­ware for a se­cond suc­ces­sive sea­son.

Rest of the Best

Goal: Siphiwe Tsha­bal­ala (Chiefs) Ned­bank Cup Most Promis­ing Player: Nduduzo Sibiya (Golden Ar­rows) Ned­bank Cup Player of the Tour­na­ment: Ab­bubaker Mo­bara

(Or­lando Pi­rates) MTN Player of the Tour­na­ment: Daine Klate (Wits) Ref­eree of the Sea­son: Phele­lani Ndaba As­sis­tant Ref­eree of the Sea­son: Lu­voyo Phu­phuma

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