Kick Off

Don’t forget to Vote

- The Editor, Zola Doda

It’s that time of the year again when hen wewe ask you, our loyal reader, to vote for our annual KICK OFF Footballer of the Season. Since 1994, when Orlando Pirates striker Marks Maponyane won the award after helping his team win the league, it has always been our tradition to ask the readers to vote for the best player from the current campaign.

The only time we did not run the competitio­n was during the 2019/20 season when the PSL season was temporaril­y suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With so much uncertaint­y on whether the campaign was going to be concluded or not, we made the decision to suspend the voting and brought it back the following year.

Kaizer Chiefs players won the award six times in the first ten years, with Orlando Pirates players winning it three times and Mamelodi Sundowns just once. Very few will argue against names like Maponyane, Edward Motale, Thabo Mooki, Raphael Chukwu, Mohamed Ouseb, Siyabonga Nomvethe (twice), Jabu Pule, Mbulelo Mabizela and Tinashe Nengomasha, who were winners between 1994 and 2004.

But over the last decade, we have seen a massive shift in the balance of power with Sundowns players taking the gong four times, Chiefs twice, Ajax Cape Town, Moroka Swallows, Cape Town City and Bidvest Wits players also writing their names on the trophy. Surprising­ly, the Pirates team that won six trophies during the ‘Double Treble’ seasons did not have a stand-out performer to convince readers to vote for one of their players as the KICK OFF Footballer of the Season.

This season, KICK OFF founding editor Mark Gleeson was tasked with a hard responsibi­lity of picking this season’s eight nominees and it was no surprise to see four Sundowns players, two Buccaneers, one representa­tive from Royal AM and Cape Town City respective­ly. And Amakhosi, who had a season full of ups and downs, have no representa­tives.

Rivaldo Coetzee, Deon Hotto, Andile Jali, Victor Letsoalo, Hugo Marques, Khuliso Mudau, Peter Shalulie and Bandile Shandu complete the list of eight nominees and readers will have the power to decide who should win the Footballer of the Season.

By winning the MTN8, dominating the league, their performanc­es in the CAF Champions League, as well as reaching the semifinals of the Nedbank Cup, Sundowns have been by far the most dominant team in the PSL this season.

Newcomers Royal AM, who were lying in position two on the log at the time of going to print, have had a tremendous debut season in the PSL after buying the status of Bloemfonte­in Celtic, with striker Letsoalo playing key role in the team’s fortunes.

The Buccaneers, who had their own fair share of struggles in the domestic league, have done well in the CAF Confederat­ion Cup. And Cape Town City’s Marques is the only goalkeeper on the list.

Turn to page 20 to read the full feature on this season’s eight nominees, why each candidate was selected, as well as how to vote.

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