JOHANNESBURG – This is a highly subjective Team of the Season, one that is without Itumeleng Khune, who would be the most popular choice for the best goalkeeper during the 2016-17 season.
But the truth is Darren Keet returned to the Premier Soccer League after nearly five years abroad and proved his worth at Bidvest Wits, the newly crowned Premier Soccer League champions.
Although coach Gavin Hunt turned to veteran Moeneeb Josephs in the final weeks of the season, maybe because Keet was being a bit lethargic, the 27-year-old still managed 10 clean sheets in 22 league matches and conceded 17 goals.
Had he played more games, Khune could have easily displaced Keet in my selection, but the latter gets the nod seeing that they had an equal number of clean sheets (Khune played two matches more) and Wits were crowned this season’s champions.
Chiefs do have one player in our Team of the Season, however.
Ramahlwe Mphahlele is deservedly the best right-back this campaign – consistent and effective both going forward and in defending.
Nazeer Allie at Wits would have given him a run for his money, but he broke his toe and missed the bulk of the second half of the season.
It’s no surprise also that this Team of the Season has as many as five Clever Boys – captain Thulani Hlatshwayo, Buhle Mkhwanazi, Sifiso Hlanti and Thabang Monare – who join Keet.
Many of them are unlikely to win individual honours at the end of season awards ceremony in the coming weeks, but collectively they were match-winners in their own right.
One man who looks poised for the biggest accolade this season is Cape Town City striker and skipper Lebogang Manyama, another one who has been reliable for his club and finished the campaign as the Golden Boot winner with 13 goals.
His efforts, and those of his teammate Aubrey Ngoma, have not gone unnoticed – seeing that they were included in new Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter’s 25-man squad for a Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Nigeria next month.
Team of the Season:
Goalkeeper: Darren Keet (Wits)
Rightback: Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Chiefs)
Leftback: Sifiso Hlanti (Wits)
Centreback: Thulani Hlatshwayo (Wits)
Centreback: Buhle Mkhwanazi (Wits)
Midfielder: Hlompho Kekana (Sundowns)
Midfielder: Thabang Monare (Wits)
Winger: Percy Tau (Sundowns)
Winger: Aubrey Ngoma (CT City)
Striker: Rodney Ramagalela (Polokwane City)
Striker: Lebogang Manyama (CT City)