The 2014/2014 season is coming to an end, with 3 or 4 matches to go before the curtain draws; the debate about the player of the season has started. Okay let’s stop with the chit chat and get right to it.
Special mention needs to go a few players who have had a phenomenal season, even though they cannot realistically stand a chance of winning Player Of the Season.
For me, playing on the inside has never been Siphiwe Tshabalala’s strength. But this season, I think he has really gone a long way in reinventing himself. He is a lot more comfortable on his weaker foot and more precise in this passing. He is a lot cleverer with his movements, giving himself a lot more time on the ball with his spacing. But most importantly he is making other people play. Because that’s the thing about playing on the spine, over and above playing well you have to make others play. This season has shown that Shabba is finding himself again, and that’s just amazing to watch.
Robyn Johannes, we all know him as a centre back. In fact most players go from centre half to centre back as they get older. But lately at the core of the Amazulu FC’s resurrection, Johannes has been playing as a centre half. And he has been doing it brilliantly as well, putting seasoned centre halves like Madondo and Mabaso on the bench and out of the squad. Sure his discipline is a bit of an issue, 6 yellows in 19 appearances, but what do you expect the man is a defender.
Cole Alexander – My word! Without a shadow of a doubt, this player has been a pleasure to watch. To me, he looks like player who has just been enjoying his football, putting to shame all those myths that Western Cape born players tend to struggle in-land. Cole isn’t just playing well in-land. He is doing it in Polokwane, where it’s hot and dry; you can basically fry an egg on your bonnet at midday. Polokwane City’s defensive record might point to some work he needs to do to improve himself as a player, but at 25 years of age I can certainly say I am looking forward to his development.
Lerato Lamola scored 11 goals so far. But the thing is he only started scoring more consistently when Larsen got back at Bloemfontein Celtics FC – a goal every second game since December 2014. In fact Sewelele have only lost once with Lamola on the team sheet. It is a pity because it means Ernst Middendorp had no idea how to use him. Therefore had Lamola been working with a coach who actually understands him, in him we could be having a 15-20 goal striker.
But for me to be a Player Of the Season, you have to performed through-out the season. Not just portions of it, and not just one of the four competitions. So with that said – my nominees for the 2014/2015 Player of the Season are:
Cuthbert Malajila has scored eleven goals so far – is all you have to say. At least one out of every five goals scored by the free scoring Masandawana so far has been his. What more do you want?
Oupa Manyisa – People hardly talk about him, but it is a little known fact that if you combine club and national team Oupa Manyisa has played over fifty matches since August 2014. And still he delivers, scoring crucial goals (7) and providing assists. You only have to look at the formation debate around Orlando Pirates FC – 4-5-1 or 4-4-2, Oupa Manyisa is at the centre of each version of the first 11. For me, quietly and diligently Oupa Manyisa has been doing the work and for that he gets my nomination.
Teko Modise, has scored 8 goals in all competitions, every sixth goal for the defending champions. He is 3 shy of the top striker, as a midfielder, I think that is just brilliant. In fact much of Malajila’s success and Mamelodi Sundowns FC as a whole can be attributed squarely on Teko Modise’s assists. In spite his criticism, the 32 year old, Soweto born attacking midfielder has yet to put a foot down wrong this season.
But if it was up to me the Player of the Season would go to Tefu Mashamaite.
The way things stand now, it would appear that this season Kaizer Chiefs FC is about to produce one of the top three defensive records since the 16 team format was introduced. They did that with three different goalkeepers. So it is not the goalkeeper that has produced this, but Mashamite’s leadership. Without a doubt, he has been critical in that result.
Stepping up with a few hours notice to not only captain but score a cup winning goal in a Soweto Derby MTN 8 final, Mashamaite has been the anchor in Baxter’s campaign. This is a man who has managed three goals and some assists, 90% pass completion rate (hardly passes backwards), only 7 fouls in open play and two yellow cards in the whole season. These are crazy numbers for a defender, especially when that defender is captain to a side that produces a record breaking trophy double.
For me without a shadow of a doubt Tefu Mashamaite is my Player Of the Season.